Eating Healthy During the Holidays – Can It Be Done?

We all know that the holiday season offers the perfect excuse to indulge in family bonding, winter fun, and of course — festive foods. In fact, many of us define the holidays through delicious meals and tasty treats. Unfortunately, all of that wonderful food is very rarely healthy — making it easier for you and your children to indulge in bad habits.

So how exactly can you maintain a robust approach to healthy living during the holiday season – when temptation lurks around every corner? The truth is that it is possible – so long as you’re willing to show great discipline, and try a couple of tricks along the way.

healthy holiday

Prepare Yourself for Holiday Celebrations


The first step in retaining a healthy lifestyle over the holiday period, is preparing yourself and your children for those days that you know are going to be a challenge. For example, if you’re booked in for a holiday party at night, and are likely to indulge in some less-than-healthy foods, make sure that you balance out your caloric intake with low-calorie, satisfying foods throughout the day (foods high in protein and fiber will help you feel more full) and don’t turn up to the event feeling hungry. One of the biggest mistakes you can make before attending a party is skipping a meal or arriving hungry, as this will increase your chances of making poor choices for instant satisfaction.

At the same time, make sure that you and your kids rest up the night before a holiday bash, by getting at least seven hours of sleep. Research has shown that poor sleep leads to overeating, with sleepless adults eating around 300 calories more per day.

Keep Track of What You Eat


When you’re heading to a holiday get together with family and friends, it’s important to focus on what the day is truly about. Your mind should be geared towards making the most of the time that you have with your loved ones — not what could be on the menu. However, when it comes to sitting down for a meal, make sure that you are mindful of the choices that you make — try filling your plates with a significant portion of vegetables. Don’t avoid your favorite items, but eat them in smaller portions, and do so slowly, to reduce your chances of returning for more.

The chances are that you aren’t going to be able to resist every delicious temptation put in front of you, but your goal should be moderation. Instead of having two pieces of pie and piling on the whipped cream, just have a single, small serving. By displaying discipline and self-control in the face of various treats, you will not only experience a healthier holiday season, but encourage the same behavior in your children too!

One tip to keep in mind is that if you’re at a buffet, it’s a good idea to choose low-calorie options first, as research suggests that you’ll consume the largest quantity of items you pick first, without thinking about the repercussions.

Don’t Skip Meals — Know How to Substitute


Skipping meals in an effort to save calories never works. In fact, most people find that this strategy boosts their chances of overeating once they reach a party or meal. Instead of skipping foods, make sure that you eat sensibly throughout the day, filling up with a healthy breakfast, and nourishing snacks. Once you arrive at the party, you can then select smaller plates and smaller servings that trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more.

If you feel like you’ve already overindulged at a previous party, or you want to lower your chances of eating too much, it’s useful to know what you can substitute on your plate to encourage a healthier diet. For example, rather than stocking your plate full of creamy mashed potatoes and white rolls, try steamed vegetables and whole wheat bread.

Where appropriate, you can even consider bringing your own dishes and snacks. This is a foolproof method of ensuring that you and your loved ones will always have a healthy pre-approved option to choose from in the case of an emergency.

Don’t Give Up On Exercising


It’s so easy to adopt the lazy lifestyle around the holiday period, as the cold weather drives us indoors to curl up in front of the fireplace with an old movie and a handful of treats. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll feel much better if you can stick to your exercise routine. Sticking to some aspects of your fitness regimen may not be possible — particularly if you and your family are used to sports and exercise that can really only take place during the summer months.

Fortunately, the holiday season can open up a brand new range of opportunities to get fit and bond with the family. For example, you could go on a walk and take in the snowy scenery with family members that you haven’t seen for a while, or try out some incredible winter-focused sports like ice-skating or skiing. Whatever you choose to do to keep your family active during the winter, remember that it’s important to keep them bundled up warm, and motivated to engage in regular activity. The aim should be to teach your children that good health is crucial all-year around – not just during the summer.

Don’t Follow the Crowd – Redefine Indulgence


Holidays shouldn’t be used as an excuse to stuff yourself to the point of discomfort, or give up on all of the healthy habits that you’ve learned throughout the year. Instead, try to focus on enjoying the holiday season — food and all — but balancing your indulge with healthier solutions and activities.

Remember, your children look to you to provide an example, and your goal should be to teach them about the benefits of indulging in family time and bonding — not the joys of overindulging in unhealthy foods.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?  How do you balance being healthy during the holidays? Leave your tips below!