20 Easy and Guilt-Free Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
Holidays are special days you spend with friends and family where you gather, catch up, and most importantly, eat together!
You surely wouldn’t want to miss out on the celebration and the boatload of food that comes with it.
It’s also a healthy time for you to relax and forget about the stress from work or school for a while.
However, such special days often effectively make people forget about their health and exercise routines. These are the “cheat days” as they term it.
While it is okay to loosen up a little and enjoy the feast, it would be wiser to still have some limitations as to how far you allow yourself to indulge.
In this article, we’ll discuss our favorite 20 healthy holiday eating tips that can help you enjoy the holidays.
Let’s dive in!
1. Do not skip meals
It’s quite common for people to think that it’d be better to “prepare” themselves for a feast by skipping meals beforehand.
This way, they’ll be able to enjoy the food and “get more out of it.” While this seems like a logical plan, this is a risky and unhealthy holiday habit.
This will most likely lead you to overeat and in turn, upset your stomach.
In the long run, skipping meals is associated with a higher risk for obesity as this mess with your digestive rhythm and metabolism which makes you prone to metabolic disorders.
2. Make room for fruits and veggies
Are holidays an acceptable excuse for you to skip on your fruits and vegetables? The answer is no!
While you are allowed to loosen up a little and entitled to eat those sweets and dishes, this should not be at the cost of your regular healthy greens and fruits.
Remember leafy greens, kale, broccoli, carrots? You got to make sure that you always have room for them, as well as other fruits and vegetables, especially during holidays.
3. Eat veggies first
Brian Tracy wrote a book about productivity called Eat That Frog! One of Brian’s point was that to help avoid procrastinating, you need to do the most difficult (or dreadful) thing first thing in the day.
What does this have to do with eating veggies? A lot.
For a lot of us, consistently eating veggies is the hardest thing during the holidays. So, eat them first. This is one of my favorite healthy holiday eating tips.
This way, you will not have to worry and keep thinking that you’ll still need to save space for your healthy foods in the middle of eating.
Furthermore, a study conducted in Japanese children found out that those who eat meat first in a meal are more likely to be overweight than those who start with vegetables.
4. Enjoy seasonal treats
Indeed, holidays are the season to be jolly. And you should make the most out of it by enjoying the seasonal treats, especially the fruits.
Since these rare fruits are not always available to you on normal days, having them during the holidays would be a great time to eat and savor these healthy snacks with your family and friends.
Plus, this will make the occasion more special and could be a part of your yearly tradition for certain holidays.
5. Don’t shop hungry
Even though you have prepared a list of things that you need, the temptation of buying food and products that attracts your attention and appetite once you are already in the grocery is just too strong.
And going there hungry will only make it worse! Being in a state of hunger may trick you into thinking that you need a lot of food even though you don’t.
6. Be part of the meal prep
After getting what you need from the supermarket, why not go all the way and take charge in the kitchen as well?
Preparing meals for the holiday together could be one of your bonding activities in the family. And in this way, you have control of what goes in the cooking pots and pans.
Related: Meal Prep Benefits: 10 Reasons Why It’s Good for Your Health
7. Don’t try to eat everything at once
If you find there’s so much food (and there always is), remember that you don’t need to try and eat all of them at once.
Chances are there will still be leftovers the following day so you can enjoy some of them then instead. Besides, overeating brings a lot of health risks so you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
8. Alternate water and alcohol
Indeed, holidays are a time for celebration, eating, as well as drinking.
Drinks are an important part of your diet and they are often overlooked because they aren’t in the form of solid foods after all.
Just be wary of how much you drink. And drink water in between alcoholic drinks as too much alcohol consumption is unhealthy.
A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked excess alcohol to overweight in adolescents.
9. Outsmart the buffet
Avoid grazing. Look at all the food on the table first and select only the healthy and the ones you really like so you won’t end up scooping everything on your plate and regret the amount of food you took later on.
10. Try the 10 seconds rule
While it is okay to take seconds, you should ask yourself whether do you want or need to have more food.
Take a pause, talk, and socialize for 10 mins and recheck your appetite before going back for more. This way, you might find yourself already full or that maybe you just only need a small portion of seconds.
11. You can BYO healthy food
There’s no one stopping you from bringing your food to get together. You can still enjoy the celebration and company of your loved ones without having to sacrifice your regular healthy diet regimen.
You can also volunteer to contribute your healthy dish in a potluck so your family and friends are also able to enjoy some healthy food.
12. Learn how to say No
The social pressure during the holidays tend to be at an all time high. People may force you to eat something or drink alcohol but you have a choice to politely decline their offer.
Gatherings shouldn’t give them an excuse to pressure or bully you into having something that’s unhealthy for you. Learn how to say no politely and you’ll be able to navigate through these situations easily.
Related: 5 Surprising Ways Food Affects Mood (Backed by Science)
13. Control the risk of temptation
During holidays, people often tend to prepare way more food than they can consume.
Seeing the heap of food can also be a great temptation into eating more. But don’t worry, you can steer away from this temptation by giving some food to your neighbors or let some friends take some home.
Also, you can cook the right amounts of food in the first place to avoid this whole scenario.
14. Increase calorie expenditure
Doing some physical exercises like compound workouts or aerobic exercises even during holidays are a great way to stay in shape and healthy.
So, it’s best of you to suggest fun physical activities for everyone! Why is this one of our favorite healthy holiday eating tips?
Because exercises expends calories. And calorie expenditure means that you’re good to eat some more calories when you feel like it.
Also exercises can improve our mood and help us make better decisions about the kind of food to eat.
Dancing, for example, is a very common yet enjoyable activity for every age at a gathering. Make it an official part of your celebration program so everyone must join and enjoy it.
15. Get enough sleep
Sleep greatly impacts your appetite and metabolism. You may enjoy too much during the holidays that you tend to sleep less or late.
Don’t think that sleep is a waste of time because it is a crucial part of having healthy well-being. Even though the holidays are joyous times, don’t forget to rest and get enough sleep. And make sure you don’t consistently eat late at night.
16. Pay attention to what matters
Food is an integral part of holidays but family, friends, and the reason why you’re celebrating in the first place are also important.
Try to socialize as much as you can especially with your older relatives. Because let’s face, you don’t know if you’ll still see them again during the next holiday.
Just keep in mind that the people and your relationship with them are the centers of holidays. Strike a balance between these and you will not be too focused on eating.
17. Keep your distance
When attending holiday celebrations, you must be strategic with where you position yourself in the hall.
The wisest thing to do for the sake of your health would be to stay away from the food. With this, you’ll effectively reduce the temptation of getting more food from time to time.
18. Savor every bite
Don’t rush your food! Holiday meals are meant to be savored and enjoyed with your loved ones.
Feel the spices and flavor of your food and make the most out of every bite so you can fully satisfy your holiday cravings and be contented after the meal.
19. Eat what you love
Holiday food is special but you don’t have to force yourself to eat them if you don’t like them in the first place. This may just ruin your mood and upset your stomach.
20. Don’t feel guilty
This is perhaps the most personal of all the healthy holiday eating tips. If you did overindulge, don’t be too hard on yourself and just make sure to make it up on your next meal.
In the end, what’s more, important is that you got to bond with your loved ones and enjoy their company and the food that you shared.
Be it Christmas, Thanksgiving, or even personal holidays like birthdays, you got to try and keep these healthy eating holiday tips in mind.
By doing so, you can surely enjoy these occasions while significantly lessening the risk of you having disorders (e.g. stress eating) as well as the guilt of holiday eating.