Eating Healthy During the Holidays: 5 Fun Tips

Want to eat healthy during the holidays this year? If you answered "yes", that doesn't mean you're guaranteed a season of boring blandness. Instead, you can eat well and enjoy yourself.

Here are some ways to make healthy holiday eating pleasant and even a little fun.

1. Make Healthier Versions of Anything

We're lucky to live in a time where you can find anything on the internet. Although this avenue can be a little overwhelming, it bodes well for healthy holiday eaters.

Googling Healthy Recipes

Think about one of your favorite holiday dishes. Then, Google that recipe with the word "healthy" in front of it—for example: "healthy [dish name] recipe."

If you follow certain dietary restrictions, such as vegan, keto, low-carb, or gluten-free, include that in your search. Example: "healthy vegan [dish name] recipe."

Chances are very good that you'll find a healthy version of a dish you love—we found this five-star low-carb stuffing recipe using the above search format.

Substituting or Reducing Ingredients

You can also swap out or alter specific ingredients in a traditional recipe to make it healthier:

  • Use applesauce instead of butter or oil in baked good recipes.
  • If you still want to use butter or oil, just use less.
  • Choose reduced-fat cheeses instead of full-fat cheeses.
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice and whole-grain bread in place of white bread.
  • Opt for fat-free or Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise.
  • Pick leaner meats or turkey for meat-heavy recipes.
  • Replace half of the sugar in holiday dessert recipes with stevia or monk fruit sweeteners.

These are just a few examples. Start with the dishes you want to make, then look up ways to lighten certain ingredients in them. You can still enjoy much of what makes the food so good—but with fewer calories, sugars, and fat!

2. Bulk It Up with Fruits and Veggies

Crowd out some of the heavier stuff with healthy, high-nutrient produce. There are several ways to do this:

  • Create a large, veggie-rich salad to enjoy before the main course.
  • As a tasty side dish, roast a bunch of vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, turnips, cauliflower, carrots, or asparagus.
  • Prepare a raw veggie plate with hummus or healthy homemade ranch as an appetizer/snack option.
  • Increase the number of vegetables that you use in each recipe you make.
  • Create a colorful fruit salad to enjoy as an appetizer, snack, or dessert.
  • Always have some fruit in your purse or bag for a quick nutrient-rich snack before or between meals. Bananas, apples, and oranges are good portable fruits.

Eating more fruits and vegetables during the holidays has many benefits. They’re obviously healthier for you, but they can also help you enjoy the festivities more. You’ll have a better time when you have more energy from consuming vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

3. Eat Regularly—Don't Start the Starve/Binge Cycle

Many people are tempted to skip meals—or not eat at all—before holiday gatherings. But this often starts a messy cycle.

According to Piedmont Healthcare, waiting a long time to eat just causes you to eat more unhealthy foods when you do finally eat. Your body’s metabolism also slows down, which can more easily lead to weight gain.

Instead, plan to eat smaller, more regular meals that contain at least one carb, fat, and protein. You’ll avoid getting too hungry and going all in on that holiday ham.

4. Eat Slow to Savor It All

Eating healthy during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of everything. Allow yourself to enjoy the foods you look forward to every year—just do so mindfully.

Practice slower, more mindful eating. Start with a small serving of the richer foods and tell yourself you can go back if you still want more after. Focus on savoring the tastes, textures, and smells of everything. You’ll be more likely to stop when you’re full because you’re actually satisfied.

5. Do Something Active Every Day

This one doesn't involve food, but it can help you avoid the post-holiday meal slump and even make healthier food choices. Try to do something active every day, even if it’s just a short walk.

The Bottom Line

This holiday season, think in terms of moderation and balance. You can practice eating healthy during the holidays without feeling like you’re missing out. We hope these tips help you do just that!

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