Pursuing health around the holidays has some unique challenges, but finding ways to promote wellness during a busy holiday season is possible. With so much to do, simple healthy holiday tips are often the most effective and can be easily incorporated into your schedule.
From healthy holiday eating tips to other subtle lifestyle adjustments, you’ll feel festive in no time. So if you’re wondering how to stay healthy during the holidays, keep reading and know you’re in good company!
How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Staying healthy during the holiday season can feel like quite the feat. Focusing on the following key areas can help you to simplify your approach.
One of the main concerns individuals experience around the holidays is how to eat healthy with so many mouth-watering foods lying around. The solution? Don’t skip meals!
This may sound counterintuitive, but skipping meals can make you more hungry and prone to overeating. Instead, aim for three well-balanced meals daily and high-protein snacks consumed every few hours to control hunger and energy levels.
If you’re having trouble designing a nourishing meal plan or navigating holiday eating, consider meeting with a registered dietitian for additional individualized tips. As a dietitian, I may encourage plating foods and relishing them at the dinner table rather than mindless grazing at the counter.
Exercise doesn’t only help with weight loss! It can also help to improve mood, reduce stress, and promote better sleep. This can be especially crucial during the holidays, as temperatures drop and daylight hours dim.
To make your commitment to work out each day easier, you may invite family and friends along for the ride (or, more aptly, the walk, jog, or run). Alternatively, enjoy exercise as a meditative moment, and don’t forget that “exercise snacks” can fuel your energy!
Although “The Christmas Song” suggests the tiny tots will find sleeping hard at night. But adults may also find it challenging to get quality sleep during the holiday season, whether related to stress, a sense of anticipation, or a never-ending to-do list to keep up with.
Aim for a minimum of 7-9 hours of sleep each night, especially during the holiday season. Ensure a quality night’s rest by applying tips for better sleep, including eliminating electronic use leading up to bedtime and going to bed and waking up around the same time each day.
Due to added responsibilities and obligations during a stressful holiday season, it’s even more important to make time for you. This can be as minimal as introducing (or continuing) a 5-minute meditation practice, a 15-minute yoga routine, or taking a bath once a week to reset.
Reducing stress may also include taking time to savor and be present at your personal favorite holiday traditions—like walking around the neighborhood looking at lights.
Another crucial aspect of navigating the holidays healthily is to discuss expectations ahead of time. For example, it can be beneficial to set expectations with family members before the holidays regarding gifts, such as if you’d like acts of service instead or would prefer a price limit to be set so that everyone’s working on equal footing.
Healthy Eating Holiday Tips
Nutrition is vital to staying nourished and feeling your best during the holidays, but with so many choices, it can feel confusing. Here’s how to enjoy seasonal abundance without going overboard this holiday season.
Practice Portion Control
Portion control is central to making healthy choices when it comes to food. One easy way to naturally keep portions more minor is to serve food on smaller plates.
Smaller portions can also help the meal to feel more “fancy,” too! You may find, somewhat surprisingly, that you’re satisfied and satiated with a smaller portion.
Instead of depriving yourself of all seasonal desserts, choose a few holiday favorites to savor. As mentioned above, restricting your diet too far (or skipping meals altogether) can backfire by making it more likely for you to overindulge.
By thoughtfully and intentionally enjoying each bite, you’ll be able to engage in seasonal sweets without losing control.
Make Thoughtful Swaps
Turn more festive feasting options with simple swaps and substitutions without sacrificing flavor. For example, swap sour cream for high Greek yogurt for the same level of tartness with much more protein.
Eat More Mindfully
Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on the abundance of healthy foods you can! For example, add more fruits and vegetables to your plate instead of refined carbohydrates.
Making mindful choices can prevent overeating without costing you the enjoyment of a meal. Tap into hunger cues by eating when you recognize hunger and stopping when you’re full.
If this sounds too complicated, simply try to eat slowly. Fully savor every bite of holiday flavors since you don’t get to experience them all year.
Even when chilly temperatures roll in, staying hydrated is still important. A glass of water is a great choice, but it may not look too impressive next to festive drinks, often full of sugar. When possible, opt for unsweetened flavored beverages.
With alcohol often flowing around the holidays, you may be tempted to drink more than usual. Like eating less healthy foods in moderation, it’s wise to limit your alcohol consumption (to one drink for women and two drinks for men) or avoid it altogether if you prefer.
Healthy Holiday Tips: Final Takeaways
Instead of complicating healthy eating over the holidays, take the simple approach. Fit in healthy foods and fitness where you can in your busy schedule, and try mindful, intentional methods for seasonal sweet treats.
Make swaps where you can, and don’t forget to support your healthy eating efforts with meaningful exercise, stress management, and sleep techniques.