Healthy and holidays often don’t go together. The season starts off with a bountiful Thanksgiving feast, often entailing stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie, and other not-so-healthy traditional foods. From there, December brings various social functions where nutritious and healthy foods are decidedly not on the menu (or the buffet table). By Christmas or Hanukkah dinner, you might feel stuffed and your jeans may fit a little tighter (if they fit at all); you firmly resolve that on New Year’s Day you’ll finally start making those healthy snacks and recipes to get lean and healthy.
Make Healthy Habits A Part of Your Lifestyle Now
Why wait to start being healthy on New Years, though? The good news is that you can gain control of your health right now and start the season off feeling your best. You don’t need to settle for weight gain and all the health-hijacking downfalls prompted by holiday traditions.
Making healthy eating and living habits a regular part of your holidays, might feel like going against the grain. After all, everyone else is downing their second or third helping of stuffing topped with gravy, while you’re being mindful and attempting to at least maintain portion control, or abstain from those foods entirely. Like many people, you may find that defining your why can provide you with the foundation you need to make these healthier choices, even if your family or friends choose to indulge.
Start by writing down your reasons, and keep them nearby (maybe in your wallet or in the dash of your car). These reasons might include: feeling fabulous in your dress on New Year’s Eve, having more energy to keep up with your kids, reducing your risk for deadly diseases, or improving your your lipid panel to reduce health issues. Whatever your reasons, be it one or all of the above, you get to decide what happy and healthy means to you.
Whenever you’re tempted to have that second helping of peppermint fudge (or whatever your holiday sugary weakness may be), you’ll have your reasons to look back at, to help you resist what might otherwise feel inevitably tempting.
10 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays
Once you have that why, establish some simple, effective ground rules that create a solid foundation to carry you through the holidays and beyond. Healthy holiday eating won’t feel difficult when you incorporate and commit to these 10 principles year-round.
1. Plan healthy foods in advance.
People who plan their meals in advance eat healthier and are less likely to be overweight. Holiday dinners parties and end-of-the-year work demands can lead to pushing healthy eating to the back burner. As a result, you’re more likely to grab an unhealthy meal at the mall or skip meals and subsequently snack on leftover gingerbread cookies. To avoid those dietary catastrophes, plan out your meals in advance. Make a list for grocery shopping, pre-prepare any ingredients that you can, and even make a menu for the week ahead. Don’t be afraid to develop strategies for how you will choose healthy options at your family’s holiday dinner.
2. Start your day healthy.
The habits you create at breakfast can supplement or weaken the healthy choices you make throughout the day. A few bites of your coworker’s homemade holiday treats, on a near-empty stomach at 10 AM, will send your blood sugar skyrocketing for a few hours, only to crash around noon when you suddenly begin crave carb-heavy lasagna and garlic bread. Don’t fall into that trap! Start the day right with a nutrient-dense, nourishing breakfast that keeps you full and focused throughout the morning. Try pre-making our Almond Power Bars, or our protein-rich Omelet Muffins recipe, made with free-range eggs and mixed vegetables, for an easy grab-and-go breakfast during even the busiest of mornings.
3. Be accountable to someone.
Making healthier choices during the holidays becomes easier when you have a like-minded friend or colleague. You might want to incorporate an online community or find a support group that fosters healthy habits. If you can’t find one in your community, consider starting one on a site like Meetup.com and incorporate either of MaxLiving’s Core or Advanced Plans.
At the very least, ask one of your coworkers or your significant other to help you maintain healthy habits during the holidays. Be wary of others who may sabotage your healthy choices, by choosing to notice who encourages your unhealthy habits. Make a pact with yourself, and others, that you’ll choose healthy foods, exercise regularly, and support others in doing so as well, especially during stressful moments.
4. Keep healthy snacks nearby.
Holiday treats can sabotage even the most vigilant eater. Leaving them sitting around only encourages mindless, frequent snacking. Instead of keeping a bowl of holiday-colored Hershey’s Kisses on the coffee table, try healthier snacks that stabilize blood sugar, so you don’t have that miserable crash an hour later brought on by sugary snacks. In one study, college students were found to be more likely to choose healthier foods (in this case, apple slices and carrot sticks) when those snacks were nearby, and in nearly-clear containers. Keeping healthy snacks nearby and visible, like our nutrient-dense, easy Trail Mix , or our Gluten-free, Grainless Crackers makes it easier to choose healthy foods over holiday sweets.
5. Incorporate more healthy recipes into your holiday parties.
Even when your favorite aunt insists that you make her cornbread stuffing for Christmas dinner, hosting your own events or having a family potluck means you can offer plenty of healthy dishes. Even if you attend someone else’s party, offer to bring your own dish. Instead of carb-rich cornbread stuffing, try making our Gluten-Free Nut Stuffing. Or, try our Easy Stuffed Mushrooms— sure to be a rave-worthy appetizer at any holiday gathering.
6. Don’t make it about “healthy food.”
Nobody wants to be “that person” who makes a big deal about everything being healthy. That doesn’t mean you need to abandon dietary discretion and eat whatever everybody else does to avoid looking like a health nut. Instead, upgrade your food selection, without making a big deal about it. Offer our Coconut Almond Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies at your next holiday party, and guests will never know these decadent, sweet desserts are actually much healthier than their sugar-filled alternatives.
7. Create your own dinner party menu.
Whether you’re hosting a holiday family dinner or having your coworkers over to celebrate, you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to create a festive, satisfying holiday meal. Start with our Sweet & Savory Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette, which can easily double as a quick leftover meal when you throw some organic turkey or wild-caught salmon on top. Our Grilled Salmon with Basil Cream Sauce, rich in crave-busting protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, makes a satisfying entree atop sauteed vegetables. Remember, real healthy food, is really delicious!
8. Remember that nutrition requires more than healthy food.
Abandoning healthy lifestyle choices becomes easy during the hectic, overscheduled holiday season. Yet even the healthiest eating plan can become derailed without sufficient sleep, stress management, exercise, immune support, and getting sufficient nutrients. Our Sleep & Mood Support formula can calm frazzled nerves and help you fall (and stay) asleep, naturally. Optimal health is the best gift you can give yourself (and your loved ones) during the holidays and beyond.
9. Try these kid-friendly ideas for Christmas dinner (or any time).
Don’t let your kids or significant other fall into a candy coma on Christmas morning. Start the day with a healthy breakfast (like our delicious gluten-free Healthy Blueberry Muffins or Almond Meal Pancakes) and maintain that healthy eating throughout the day. For super-picky kids who roll their eyes at sliced turkey, our Healthy Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets or pizza made with our Cauliflower Crust will satisfy even the most fussy eater.
10. Don’t forget these easy holiday desserts.
Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner wouldn’t feel complete without the desserts. Fortunately, you can indulge in holiday treats without the guilt or sugar coma. Our creamy Avocado Chocolate Pudding or Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie will please even the most dedicated dessert fan. If you want something slightly different with a tapioca-like texture, try our Chia & Almond Milk Pudding. Make the pecan pie fans cheer with our perfectly portioned Raw Pecan Pie Mini Tarts, or please the peanut butter lovers with our Peanut Butter Pie Recipe. Who needs sugar-loaded desserts when you have these satisfying options?
During the holidays, you’ll occasionally indulge, and you might encounter a few occasions where you have little control over what you eat. For the most part, though, you have plenty of opportunities to make healthy choices during the holidays — even at a Christmas cookie party or your coworker’s eggnog-sampling event.
Incorporating healthy recipes into your festivities means you don’t have to feel deprived OR experience weight gain during the holidays. And (bonus!) come New Year’s Day, you won’t be cursing your skinny jeans.