Staying healthy during the holidays can be challenging. With all the extra parties, decadence, and food temptations, our regular healthy eating habits may be altered. Luckily, there are plans and solutions to maintain optimal wellness with these top 10 healthy holiday tips.
1. Stay Fueled - Skipping meals in order to “save up” for the big, splurge-like event can actually sabotage your health and result in eating more at the party and indulging in undesirable food choices. Stay fueled by enjoying your regular meals and snacks. In addition, having a snack before an event can help control blood sugars and hunger levels so that when you get to the event, you’re not starving. A perfect healthy holiday snack combination of carbohydrates and protein is a Chocolate Chip Collagen Bar or Chocolate Walnut Collagen Bar.
2. Bring a Healthy Dish to the Potluck - You don’t always know what food will be available at the party. If it’s a potluck, bring a healthy dish to enjoy. Vegetable dishes are fantastic options since they are high in fiber which fills people up. Bring a salad, roasted vegetables, or a veggie platter with a dip. You now have a healthy, go-to option to load your plate with.
3. Eat the Colors of the Rainbow- Focus on eating as many colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) from fruits and vegetables as you can. The more variety you have, the more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you will get. In addition, fruits and veggies are full of fiber which fills us up.
4. Enjoy One Plate- At the event, if there are appetizers, fill up just one plate of food for portion control. Refrain from sitting around the table and mindlessly munching away. Putting food on a plate will help you know exactly how much you’re eating. During the mealtime, if there is a buffet, continue with the one-plate goal. Portion control is important for maintaining healthy holiday eating habits.
5. Put the Fork Down - Take time to eat the meal. Chew the food at least twenty to thirty times per bite in order to slow down the time it takes to eat the food, allow the body to absorb the food, and savor the flavor of the delicious dish. The body takes twenty minutes to recognize it’s full from the time you start a meal. Putting the fork down between bites will allow the body to realize it’s full which means you have the opportunity to eat less while still being satisfied.
6. Have Healthy Snacks Available- With all the extra holiday sweets and treats around the office or in the home, temptations run high. It’s so easy to grab the candy when it’s right in front of you and especially when you’re hungry. Having a healthy, protein-rich snack easily available will reduce the temptation to splurge on the treats. Enjoy any flavor of the Caveman Foods Meat Bars, Bites, or Sticks for a nourishing, satiating snack and say good-bye to that cookie platter.
7. Distance Yourself- Keep your distance from the food table or area. The closer it is, the easier it is to grab it. In the office, take a longer route to get to the bathroom. In the home, keep tempting food out of site to make it harder to get to. At a party, stand on the other side of the room.
8. Stay Hydrated- Alcohol can be abundant during the holidays. Drinking too much can result in dehydration and possibly having the munchies post-party to soak up the alcohol. Stay hydrated by chasing every alcoholic drink with a glass of water. In addition, have a drink plan before going to the party where you set yourself up with a realistic drink goal of how many drinks you plan to have which will keep you focused and in control.
9. Organize an Activity- Plan an activity or event like building a snowman or going on a hike. Weather-permitting, go for a walk after a meal. If it’s snowing, opt-in for going sledding or making snow angels. Any type of physical activity counts and is optimal to keep those muscles moving.
10. Focus on the People- Remember that the purpose of getting together with people during the holidays is to hang out with loved ones. Play the game of conversation and relish the time being spent with those you care about. Food and alcohol are just secondary to the real reason for the holiday season. It’s an occasion to celebrate and spend quality time with one another.
The holidays can be a time of health and wellness. Don’t wait until the New Year to make a resolution. Start by picking at least two or three healthy holiday tips and putting them into practice. Maintaining your healthy habits during the holidays can be as easy as one-two-three.
Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist specializing in optimizing athlete’s performance and helping people reach their nutrition and health goals. She also loves cooking and creating incredible dishes. Check out these recipes on her personal site and follow her on Instagram @SarahKoszyk.