Healthy Holiday Eating: How to Find Balance and Enjoy the Season

December 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! However, all that holiday cheer comes with many temptations, particularly on the buffet table. It can be difficult to resist the cookies, cakes and other sweet treats. But just because it’s the season to be jolly doesn’t mean you should completely upend your good eating habits.

It’s important to find balance, finding ways to indulge in (and enjoy) some of your favorite holiday foods without completely overdoing it. Here are five key tips to help you manage healthier eating over the holidays.

1.  Watch what you drink.

While you may have had the willpower to avoid the dessert table at a holiday party, you should also look at what you drink. Eggnog, hot chocolate with whipped cream, peppermint mocha and those fun holiday alcoholic beverages all come with a high calorie count. Try to limit the number of sugary or alcoholic beverages you consume over the holidays — and make sure to consume plenty of water to help stay sated.

2.  Create a buffet plan.

With a festive holiday buffet table before you, it can be easy to forage. But those little bites of something can add up. To help avoid temptation, look over your food options before indulging — and create a plan to make sure you don’t overindulge. Then grab a small plate to collect the foods you want the most.

If you can’t resist Grandma’s famous pound cake (and let’s face it, few can), take a smaller portion of potatoes or other carb-heavy side dishes. Or better yet, skip those extra sides altogether. Being proactive and coming up with a plan before you start loading your plate can help ensure you won’t overdo it.

3. Up your exercise game.

With weeks and weeks of holiday fun and food, you may find your workout will go by the wayside. With so many cookies and pies on offer, however, finding time to exercise is important. It helps if you can add an extra 10 to 15 minutes to your regular cardiovascular routine — or find fun winter activities that get you up and moving more. This will not only help temper any extra caloric intake but also help you manage the stress that so often comes with holiday gatherings.

4. Skip the chips.

Too often, you’ll find a plethora of chips, dips and other snack foods sitting around before a calorie-laden holiday meal is even served. It’s all too easy to fill up on these junk foods while you are conversing with friends and family. Skip the snacking so you can enjoy your favorite holiday foods with less guilt — and less likelihood of overeating.

5. Don’t beat yourself up.

It’s the holidays, and with so many amazing foods on offer, it’s likely you will end up eating a little too much on at least one occasion. If that happens, don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, consider what led you to overindulge. Were you foraging at the buffet table? Filling up on salty snacks? Did you try every aunt’s dessert to make sure no one felt left out? If you can better understand your particular overeating triggers, you can better manage your eating at the next holiday gathering.

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