Health Care Lifestyle

8 Healthy Holiday Nutrition Tips

A girl smiling at the dinner table.

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If you feel your weight loss and nutrition goals are more difficult to maintain during the holiday season, you’re not alone. This time of year is often highly difficult for many due to abundant baked goods and indulgent, seasonal meals. However, sticking to your goals doesn’t mean you need to miss out on all the holiday gatherings this season. Keep reading to learn our eight tips for maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet during the holidays.

Plan Ahead

Make it a point to plan for your holiday gatherings. Avoid skipping meals or attending an event on an empty stomach. You may often read advice not to grocery shop while hungry; the direction also stands in social situations. You may think you’ll eat less if you skip a meal earlier in the day, but in reality, you’ll likely overeat due to your missed hunger cues.

Bring a Dish

If you’re attending a holiday potluck, bring a healthy dish you know will be a good option for your dietary needs. Not only will it be something you know you’ll be able to eat without regret, but it will also be a good opportunity to share a healthy option with your friends and family.

If your event is being catered and bringing a dish to share isn’t a plausible option, you can still pack a healthy snack for yourself, like a protein bar, mixed nuts or a bag of fresh vegetables, so you’ll be guaranteed to have an option in case there aren’t many healthy options at your function.

Survey Your Options

When you arrive, walk around the food table and identify healthy options. Build your plate with primarily those options, but realize you don’t have to avoid the foods you may consider more indulgent entirely. Moderation is truly key. A festive treat here and there will not outweigh the healthy, nutrient-dense foods you choose the rest of the time. A good way to put this into practice while at an event is to select a small portion of one or two of your favorite holiday favorites so you don’t feel like you’re missing out entirely, and then build the rest of your plate with veggies, protein and fiber-rich foods.

Slow Down

Even though it’s exciting to think about all the festive foods available during the holiday season, it’s still important to take your time during meals. Chew slowly and pause between bites. Give your body a chance to tell you when it’s had enough. It takes about 20 minutes once you begin eating for your brain to signal that you’re feeling full, and overindulging before you notice this signal — or continuing to eat afterward — will only make you overeat and feel regret.

Don’t Forget About Your Portions

This season can often be a time to overindulge unintentionally — and while one instance of overeating won’t necessarily set your entire wellness journey back, it’s important to stick to the healthy habits you’ve built upon throughout the rest of the year. Focus on your vegetables and protein, and use a smaller plate whenever available to help avoid overeating.

When you’ve finished your plate, if you’re considering seconds, do yourself a favor and take a short break before eating more. Use this time to socialize, use the restroom or take a brief walk. The reasoning is simple: your body takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating before your brain realizes it’s full. You may find that after your short break, you no longer desire a second serving.

Avoid Grazing

Snacking throughout the evening is a surefire way to indulge in excess calories and regain the weight you’ve been working to lose. If you’re at an event with a buffet, set limits for yourself or ask your partner or a close friend to hold you accountable. Visit the buffet once instead of making it the evening’s main attraction.

Pay Attention to Your Beverage Choices

Beverages can quickly amount to many calories. It can be easy to forget that high-sugar and high-calorie drinks, like alcohol and juice, won’t help you achieve your weight-loss goals. We recommend choosing calorie-free beverages, like tea or sparkling water, so you don’t end up unnecessarily drinking an abundance of extra calories. And if you do choose another type of beverage, still make sure to sip water throughout the night to help keep you feeling satisfied and hydrated.

Listen to Your Body

Overall, listen to your body. Be realistic about your weight loss goals and know that weight maintenance can still be considered a win during the holidays. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up on a meal. If you need assistance with weight loss management, our expert team can help guide you and offer personalized weight-loss solutions to help you feel whole.

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