Health Advocate Blog

Healthy eating tips for the holidays

By now, it is well understood that this holiday season is going to be much different from those of recent years. While it is a hard fact to come to terms with, it is necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy! One silver lining is that with smaller gatherings or celebrations with your household only, you can have more control over holiday meals—which can be a challenge to healthy eating. This year, as you begin to plan and prepare, keep our healthy eating tips in mind.

Plan ahead. When healthy eating is your goal, having a well-thought-out plan can help you follow through. Be sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Be a sneaky chef by incorporating hidden fruits and veggies into recipes for added nutritional benefit. Click here for ideas.

Shop early. Smaller gatherings may lead to greater demand on holiday meal staples. Consider buying non-perishable foods and ingredients you may need to avoid the rush. Be considerate to others—avoid overbuying!

Cook smart. Cooking methods can greatly influence the healthfulness of foods. Opt to grill or bake and avoid frying foods, when possible.

Flavor wisely. When preparing your foods, consider alternate ways of flavoring rather than overloading on things like salt, sugar and butter. Check out our posts about flavoring food the healthy way and healthy baking substitutions for inspiration.

Don’t overdo it. If you’re used to cooking for a big crowd, make sure to scale back on quantities to avoid wasting food or overeating. Be especially mindful about items such as appetizers and desserts.

Enjoy a nutritious breakfast the morning of the holiday. Start the day with a healthy and filling breakfast to help prevent grazing/snacking while you’re cooking and save you from overeating at the big meal.

Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. And if you don’t absolutely love that food you’re eating, don’t mindlessly eat it. Ask yourself whether that treat is really worth it before you eat another bite.

Savor your holiday meals and treats. Take small bites and chew slowly; don’t wolf down your food.  Not only can that make you overeat, but your stomach might not appreciate it!

Beware of liquid calories. Things like soda and alcohol can be high in calories.  If you enjoy these beverages (and are of age!), drink only in moderation. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated–and remember, water won’t pack on the pounds!

Eat treats in moderation. Eating sugar and fat often makes us crave even more sugar and fat. Only put one serving, or a few bites of, a treat on your plate. For more tips to help reduce your sugar intake this holiday season, click here.

Avoid slathering your food with creamy, heavy gravies or dressings. This packs quite a calorie punch. If you’re having salad, opt for a fat-free vinaigrette or a drizzle of olive oil, which is made up of healthier fats.

Going to an outdoor event or small holiday gathering? 

  • First and foremost, wear a mask, social distance, and follow state and local guidelines on quarantine, travel and gatherings.
  • Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day. That way, you won’t be starving when you arrive, and you can afford to indulge in a treat since you’ve eaten healthily the rest of the day.
  • Scope out your food options before loading up your plate. Choose a few favorite foods, skip foods you don’t have to have, and load up on fruits and veggies–they’re naturally fat-free. They’re also packed with water, which will keep you hydrated and help you feel full.
  • Bring your own healthy dish so that you know there’s a good-for-you food there to eat.
  • If you’re going to a function and don’t know what’s being served, stash some healthy snacks in your car or handbag–cut-up carrots, a piece of fruit, some nuts, a granola bar, etc. If you don’t like what food is being served there, or you feel it’s too unhealthy, at least you’ll have a few healthy things to munch on.

Remember, if you overindulge, not all is lost–it’s not an invitation to go overboard every time!  Get back on the healthy eating wagon as soon as possible.

From all of us at Health Advocate, we hope you have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!