How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays
Updated on: December 2022
Written by: Nicole Hinckley, RD, LD
Did you know that the average person gains about one pound per year during the holiday season? It doesn’t sound that like much, but over time those pounds start to accumulate. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track with your health goals heading into the new year!
Find What You Need
Clean Up Your Environment to Avoid Grazing
Are you one of those people who can’t pass up a piece of Halloween candy staring at you from across the office or that cookie that is longing to be eaten every time you pass it on your kitchen counter? Structure your environment in a way that discourages these temptations. How can you reorganize your pantry so that it’s inviting those healthy food thoughts into the front of your brain? Place the candy in the back along with other items you want to avoid. Think through this same strategy for encouraging positive behaviors. Front and center of your fridge should be a variety of colorful fruits and veggies. Want to increase your workouts this week? Try laying out your workout clothes the day before. Want to drink more water? Try cleaning off your desk, so your water bottle really stands out.
Always Be Prepared with Options You Like
Whether you are headed out for a holiday party or out and about for some Christmas shopping, always make sure you have well-balanced options that you like. You don’t want to run into a scenario where you have to eat something that doesn’t align with your health goals.
- Pumpkin devilled eggs https://tasty.co/recipe/halloween-pumpkin-deviled-eggs
- Vegetable tray with Greek yogurt dip
- Cucumbers with smoked salmon and cream cheese
- Charcuterie board
In Your Purse While Holiday Shopping
- Protein bars
- Peanut butter crackers
- Protein shakes
Balance Your Plate
Strive to meet the MyPlate Guidelines. This means that half your plate should be veggies, a quarter of your plate carbs and a quarter of your plate protein. Remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect during the holiday season. If you are counting green bean casserole as your veggie and pumpkin pie as your carb, that’s okay! Maintaining some kind of structure with your meals will help you feel your best mentally and physically!
Try Food Journaling
If it’s not on your plate, it doesn’t count right? If only this were the case. Don’t forget those extra bites add up! Whether it’s munching off your significant other’s plate, finishing your children’s food, or having a few extra bites while preparing or putting away meals, this habit can be difficult to even recognize. Food journaling can be an eye-opening way to track this behavior. Using notes on your phone, an app, or a pen and paper, try jotting down every single thing you eat throughout the day, even if it is only one bite of something. It can help you become more mindful in your eating habits and bring awareness to things you want to change.
|1 Tablespoon Cookie Dough||30 Calories|
|1 Tablespoon Shredded Cheese||30 Calories|
|1 Tablespoon Pecan Pie||45 Calories|
|1 Chicken Nugget||45 Calories|
Make Healthier Swaps When Cooking and Baking
Keep in mind, you can still enjoy your grandma’s favorite recipe as long as you are watching your portion size. However, if you are looking to lighten up the sugar or saturated fat content due to some underlying blood sugar or cholesterol issues, try switching up the ingredients a little bit. You might not even notice or you may even prefer the recipe this way!
|Sour Cream||Non-fat Plain Greek Yogurt|
|Creamy Sauces||Broth-based Sauces|
|White Rice||Brown Rice or Cauliflower Rice|
|Butter||Olive oil or Applesauce|
|Sugar||Stevia or Mashed Bananas|
|White Flour||Wheat Flour or Almond Flour|
Have an App Handy to Quickly Look for the Lighter Choice
These days there are many online weight loss programs and apps that offer the ability to count the calories of the foods you are eating, as well as compare the nutrition facts of two options. Oftentimes, holiday meals are a lot more about the experience rather than what you are actually eating or drinking. There is something about walking around with a warm coffee in your hand while holiday shopping, but do you really care if you are drinking 2% milk or whole milk? Probably not! Do you like pumpkin pie about as much as pecan pie? Great, choose the pumpkin pie. If pecan is your favorite, have half as much! It’s important to be informed so you can make the best decision. Next time you’re between two choices, do a quick search on your app. Some well-rated options include MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, and FatSecret.
|1 Slice of Pecan Pie||1 Slice of Pumpkin Pie|
|Saturated Fat||5 grams||2.6 grams|
|Carbs||64 grams||46 grams|
|Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha (Grande)||Skinny Latte (Grande)|
|Saturated Fat||12 grams||0 grams|
|Surgars||72 grams||17 grams|
Think About What You Can Add to Your Diet
Brainstorm ways to incorporate what’s in season this fall and winter! How can you spice up your meals to include these delicious and nutrient rich ingredients? Sneak those seasonal ingredients into your meals with these fun ideas!
- Pumpkin french toast https://lifemadesimplebakes.com/pumpkin-french-toast-with-whipped-pumpkin-butter/
- Pasta salad https://www.foodiecrush.com/creamy-avocado-pesto-pasta-salad/
- Zucchini bread https://www.spendwithpennies.com/zucchini-bread/
- Egg muffins https://cafedelites.com/breakfast-egg-muffins-3-ways/
- Cinnamon dusted coffee
Prevent a Pound from Creeping Up on You
Do your best to prevent that one pound from creeping on this holiday season. That’s only eating about 3,500 more calories the entire holiday season. Let’s take a look at how easily it adds up!
We hope that you find confidence in knowing you can enjoy every bit of your holiday traditions, and that with just a small bit of planning you can set yourself up for success going into the new year!