Healthy Holiday Tips

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Healthy Holiday Tips

Posted on 11th Jan 2019

The holidays are a wonderful time to make memories with friends and family. But, with a holiday celebration, unhealthy foods that tempt you to indulge are usually part of the package. Studies show that the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season. However, by following some healthy tips, it is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle year-round. The following tips can help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while still enjoying the delicious flavors of the holiday.


  1. Shop Smart. Plan your menu around plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Consult the nutrition label to choose foods rich in nutrients, but low in calories, sugar and fat.


  1. Look for Healthy Alternatives to your Favorite Dishes. Healthy eating does not mean passing on your holiday favorites. Making a few changes to recipes can significantly impact the overall nutritional content, such as:

  • Spices in place of butter or salt

  • Plain fat-fat cream cheese or yogurt instead of mayonnaise

  • Olive oil rather than bacon grease

  • Bake, broil, roast or stir-fry instead of frying

  • Whole wheat/grain over white bread and pasta

  • Sweet potato rather than mashed potatoes


  1. Moderation is Key. During the holidays, moderation is especially important. There is nothing wrong with letting yourself have a heavy, calorie-dense meal if you balance with other healthy and nutrient-dense meals. Choose a light, healthy breakfast and lunch to prepare your body for a larger, less healthy festive dinner meal. Also, if you schedule your heavier meals for lunch, you will have the rest of the day to digest your food for a more restful night of sleep.


  1. Portion Control. It may be tempting to eat a very large meal on a holiday. If you snack frequently during the day and have 3 small/medium sized meals, it will improve digestion and prevent over-eating. Using smaller plates can also help with portion control.


  1. Swap to Healthier Desserts. Try serving a large variety of fruits and offer dark chocolate high in cacao for dipping. This adds color to your meal, while also providing important nutrients. Also, you can make small recipe changes to improve the nutritional quality of a dessert dish. For example, you can replace whole milk with reduced fat or non-fat milk and use fat-free whipped toppings. If you want to offer pie, swap out non-fat milk and top it with fat-free whipped toppings.


  1. Opt for homemade instead of processed items. Canned, processed and premade foods are filled with excess salt and sugar that can be avoided when making a dish yourself. When cooking a recipe, it is easy to reduce the sodium and sugar intake by making it from scratch. If you make your food from scratch, you are more aware of the ingredients, preparation and quality of the dish.


  1. Slow down during meals. Eating your food slowly and giving your stomach enough time to send your brain a signal telling you that your full can significantly decrease the probability of overeating. This can help maintain proper portion control, as well as prevent obesity.


  1. Take a walk after dinner. Walking for 20-30 minutes immediately after a meal can directly benefit your overall health. It provides alone time, which is good for mental health. Exercise can also aid in digestion, which is good for your physical health.


  1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Sticking to a sleep schedule during the holidays can improve your digestion and mental health. You should keep a consistent sleeping pattern by waking up and falling asleep around the same time every day.


Eating healthy over the holidays can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Sticking to these tips will help you to be happy and healthy as you move into the new year!

Written by Food Fitness First, Inc.® Dietetic Intern Emilie Roman.

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