tips to eat healthy during the holidays

Tips to eat healthy during the holidays

These tips to eat healthy during the holidays explain how you can be healthy by making a few simple tweaks to your holiday favourites

It’s common knowledge that holiday living doesn’t agree with healthy living. The plethora of indulgent recipes that adorn Eid, Arafat, Christmas, and New Year’s tables may not follow the diets we stick to the rest of the year. But with the following tips, you’ll be able to stay mentally and physically healthy throughout the holiday season. 

Finding Healthy Food Alternatives 

Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to give up your holiday favorites — all they need are a few modifications. You can use less butter and meat, yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and baking dishes instead of deep-frying. With these simple tricks, you can keep all your favorites on your plate without adding up excess calories.  

Practicing Moderation 

Moderation will become your savior during the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an indulgent, festive dinner — but you’ll want to make sure that your meals surrounding it are healthy and nutrient-dense. Have a light lunch like a salad with olive oil dressing, and opt for a healthy breakfast the next morning like avocado on whole wheat toasted bread. By eating healthy during the holiday season, you can afford to go all out for the big events. 

Keeping Up the Motion 

You’ve got a lot on your plate this time of year, and physical activity can get crowded out. But being active is your secret holiday weapon; it can help make up for eating more than usual and reduce stress during this most stressful time of year. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday meal. 

Getting Ample Sleep Hours 

Going out more and staying out later often means cutting back on sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to manage your blood sugar, and when you’re sleep deprived you’ll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night to resist mindless eating. 

Choosing Homemade Instead of Processed Foods 

Preparing everything homemade can be difficult when you have a lot going on, but it can also ensure that you’re eating much healthier. Canned, processed, and premade foods are full of excess salt and sugar that you can avoid by making the dishes yourself. Making the food from scratch will make you much more aware of what you’re eating and when giving you more control and awareness in the long run.  

Adding More Vegetables 

It’s easy to go all-out with our favorite recipes, but sometimes eating better is as simple as keeping more healthy choices on hand. Increase the number of vegetable dishes on the dinner table, finding small twists to dress them up without making them unhealthy. When in doubt, serve vegetables first — like a salad before dinner or a vegetable-based appetizer earlier in the afternoon. This will help everyone make sure they get the vegetables they need instead of filling up on buttery mashed potatoes.  

Eating Your Meals Slowly 

While the decadent food might make us eager to eat, a key tip to staying healthy over the holidays is to slow down during mealtime. Multiple studies have shown that eating slowly can give our stomachs enough time to send the hormonal signal to our brain telling us that we’re full, which will stop us from accidentally overeating. This can help us maintain better portion control as a result. 

Controlling Your Consumed Portion 

Speaking of portion control — portion control will be your best friend throughout the holiday season. Eat small snacks during the day, and have three medium meals instead of three extra-large ones. This will improve your digestion and reduce the amount you’re eating, both during meal times and overall. If you’re worried about portion control, you can use smaller plates or reduce the number of dishes you serve at each meal.     

Maintaining Your Typical Sleep Schedule 

This can be particularly challenging with the increase in parties and family in town. But sticking to your sleep schedule will improve your quality of sleep both now and after the holidays. Studies have shown that, unsurprisingly, irregular sleep schedules can lead to poor sleep quality, fatigue, poor eating habits, and daytime sleepiness that can take time to reverse. Avoid this by going to bed and waking up as close to the same time as you usually do. 

Taking Out Time for Yourself 

The holidays are full of family and friends, and while this can be a great thing, it can also be draining and stressful. Whether you’re staying with family over the holidays or just attending a large number of events, remember to take time every day for yourself. Go for a walk, meditate once a day, or offer to go to the store for a few minutes of quiet. Even extroverts need time to recharge. 

Holiday-Proofing Your Plan 

You may not be able to control what food you’re served, and you’re going to see other people eating tempting treats. Meet the challenges armed with a plan: 

  • Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtime and eat a little less when dinner is served. 
  • Invited to a party? Practice bringing a healthy dish along. 
  • If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbs (like potatoes and bread) during the meal. 
  • Don’t skip meals to save up for a feast. It will be harder to manage your blood sugar, and you’ll be really hungry and more likely to overeat. 
  • If you slip up, get right back to healthy eating with your next meal. 

Resisting that Buffet Temptation 

When you face a spread of delicious holiday food, make healthy choices easier: 

  • Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table. 
  • Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite.
  • Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full. 
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interact with diabetes medicines. 
  • Also plan to stay on top of your blood sugar. Check it more often during the holidays, and if you take medicine, ask your doctor if the amount needs to be adjusted. 

Most of all, it is important to remember what the season is about — celebrating and connecting with the people you care about. This proves to serve you very well because when you focus more on the fun, it’s easier to focus less on the food. 

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