The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. This often includes a bounty of food choices and hustling and bustling to holiday parties.
Overeating and scurrying constantly can start negatively impacting health, though. And if wanting to maintain or lose weight, this time of year can be stressful.
Fortunately, the holidays can be enjoyed in a healthy manner while avoiding holiday weight gain! Learn how to stay on track this holiday season with these health and nutrition tips offered by our Registered Dietitians.
How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season
From healthy holiday eating tips to healthy lifestyle hacks, learn how to stay in tiptop shape this holiday season.
1. Begin the Day with Breakfast
Healthy holiday eating can start at the front of the day. A high-protein breakfast blunts hunger, thus reducing the risk of overeating on high-calorie snacks and meals later on. Eating breakfast can also heighten energy levels to kick start the morning and motivation to make healthy choices throughout the day.
Besides, starting the day with a healthy breakfast after an evening out can help put you back on track! As a general guideline, breakfasts should be about 300 calories and contain 20 to 25 grams of protein. Adding healthy fat and fiber is helpful, too.
Quick and satisfying breakfast ideas include a Greek yogurt parfait, smoothie, and frittata or quiche loaded with veggies.
2. Practice Food Safety
Take the time to make healthy holiday recipes? Do not let that nutritious and delicious side dish lead to unpleasant digestive distress!
Be sure to practice good food safety as well. Reduce the risk of foodborne illness by washing hands prior to food handling. Be sure to keep surfaces clean and check for proper internal temperatures of food, too.
Implementing these food practices keeps you over the holiday. But it likewise ensures the health of others enjoying the tasty recipes you have been anxious to share!
3. Practice Mindful Eating During Holidays
From roasted sweet potatoes to chewy cookies and everything else in between, tempting foods are abundant during the holiday season. But rather than avoiding those favorites, allow yourself to enjoy the holiday treats while practicing mindful eating.
Thoroughly enjoying your food by appreciating the smells and flavors rather than quickly scarfing them down. Eat slowly, tune into hunger and satiety cues, and truly be present in the moment.
Really, eating and staying healthy is much more than eating fruits and vegetables. And mindful eating is a great method to help one build a healthy relationship with food.
Check out our healthy holiday guide below full of recipes and tips to help you practice mindful eating through the holidays!
4. Keep Portions Sizes in Check
In addition to mindful eating, one can eat healthy during the holidays with these portion control tips:
• Drink water before and with meals.
• Load the plate up with veggies and pair with a lean protein source. This may include a roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts salad paired with a serving of turkey breast.
• Use smaller plates as available.
• Scope the buffet and make a mental game plan before loading up the plate.
• Sit and mingle strategically away from the food buffet or table.
• Wait at least 15 minutes before heading up for another round of holiday food.
5. Ensure Adequate Hydration
With the efforts to keep good food practices in place during the holidays, good water intake may take the backseat. However, staying hydrated is as important as staying nourished.
As a general reference, aim for at least 64 ounces of water daily. Adequate hydration maintains and improves health in a number of ways, including during the holidays. Such benefits include heightening energy levels, maximizing brain function, and assisting in weight control.
Drink more water by taking advantage of flavor enhancers as needed. Also, try drinking water before and with meals and keep it conveniently on hand.
6. Follow Healthy, Holiday Drinking Tips
Holiday drinking often occurs to celebrate and socialize with friends and family members. But if drinks are not kept moderated, you may compromise your holiday health.
Healthy tips to sip to the holiday season include:
• Drinking in moderation. Men are encouraged to limit drinks to two servings daily. Women should stick to one per day.
• Sticking to proper drinking sizes. This means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of spirits.
• Avoiding empty calories with sugary mixers. Elevate drinks with seltzer water, a squirt of lime, and low-calorie options.
Exceeding the recommended intake raises the risk of dehydration and overconsuming empty calories. There is an added risk of putting your life and others in jeopardy. As always, never drink and drive or allow anyone that has been drinking behind the wheel.
7. Tend to Hunger
One of the best tips to eat healthy during the holidays is by taking care of hunger. Because while it seems logical to save calories by skipping meals, showing up to the party ravenous can be dangerous.
Eating a nutritious snack prior to the party can weaken domineering feelings of hunger and control blood sugars. It can lessen the risk of feasting on high-calorie foods as well. Easy, healthy snacks may include the following:
• Peanut butter smeared onto an apple
• Cottage cheese
• Mixed nuts
• Roasted garlic hummus cups
8. Stay Active
And no, exercise does not have to take the entire morning of heading to the gym and tackling a long workout!
In fact, studies show even three 10-minute bouts of exercise can be just as effective as one 30-minute session. So take the time to do mini intervals of activity, including walking the dog or a full-body Tabata workout.
Truly the most importance is not how you choose to exercise, just as long as you are!
9. Ensure Adequate Sleep
Less than 60 percent of American adults achieve the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Add on the hustle and bustle of the holidays, catching those Zzz's maybe an even greater obstacle.
However, sleep is just as critical to health as a healthy diet and consistent exercise. Increase the likelihood of reaching adequate sleep by implementing a sleep schedule. Turn off electronic devices and limit caffeine consumption in the afternoon, evening, and night hours.
10. Stick to a Routine
Well, to most of your ability! Despite the lengthy to-do list during the holiday season, try to keep day-to-day tasks in sequence.
Do you exercise each morning? Wake up and conquer that workout. And if time seems rushed, modify your regimen with these quick 10-minute workout ideas. But remember, any physical activity is better than going without!
Routine maintenance may also include meal preparation, a set bedtime, or a portion of the day dedicated to "you" time.
11. Get Check-Ups and Vaccinations
Keep health at the forefront by being proactive. Frequent check-ups and staying up-to-date with vaccinations can prevent illness or health conditions further down the road.
Consult a healthcare provider to determine recommended vaccines linked to age, travel destinations, and medical and health history. Keep health insurance cards, a list of allergies, etc. on hand while out, especially if on vacation.
Doing so can further provide valuable assistance if an accident was to occur.
12. Manage Stress
Though holidays are not meant to be gone through stressed out, it may be inevitable with heightened schedules and tasks.
But instead of ignoring stress, manage it. This is because stress can be damaging to both mental and physical health. It can cascade binge eating to foods rich in added sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat. Good immune function can be compromised, too, and increase the risk of illness.
Defeat stress with stress-relieving workouts or a 20-minute yoga routine. Calling a friend, deep breathing, and taking a walk can likewise be helpful.
13. Forget Perfection
With loved ones coming over to celebrate the holidays, you certainly want to entertain to the best of your ability. However, it is important to ditch the concept of perfection and accommodate yourself, too.
Hosting a party or get-together is admirable, but also remember the holidays might not be enjoyed by all. So rather than stressing over minor details, remember the major theme of the holidays:
Being with loved ones and enjoying them together!
Healthy Holiday Recap
The holidays are a time to spend quality time with loved ones, not feel overwhelmed with stress. To keep health at the forefront, keep these healthy holiday tips top of mind.
And, again, try to forget perfection and live in the moment with loved ones. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!