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by Joanna Foley, RD, CLT December 12, 2022 4 min read

Holidays tend to be a time of celebration. This often means more social occasions with more drinks, snacks and sweet indulgences. I am sure we can agree that a few weeks of celebrating can easily lead to unwanted weight gain.

The good news is that it doesn't have to - you can embrace the holidays AND feel good after, because it's all about the choices you make. Choosing to implement simple daily foundations that support your health while enjoying indulgences in moderation can give you the best of both worlds.

Here are some helpful healthy hacks to stay on track with your goals this holiday season, enjoy yourself and feel your best:

Healthy Hacks to Survive the Holidays

1. Don't Show Up Super Hungry

While it can be tempting to skip meals to "save your calories," this can backfire and can lead to overeating.

Instead, continue your normal eating patterns; have a balanced breakfast and lunch. Eating well earlier in the day will allow you to go into a holiday event without feeling overly hungry or deprived. Be intentional and savor your favorite holiday foods in a moderate amount.

2. Choose Healthier Drink Options

Festive wine, eggnog and cocktails can add up fast when it comes to calories and sugar content. Sweetened drinks will spike your blood sugar levels, and high alcohol intake can impair your judgement in making other healthy choices. Enjoy alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks), or opt for a non-alcoholic cocktail - "mocktails", low calorie beer or wine, a half soda - half wine "spritzer" or sip on unsweetened drinks like sparkling water with a dash of cranberry or freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh mint. If you are drinking alcohol, alternate with water in between to stay hydrated.

3. Make Healthier Whole Food Snacks

Having nourishing and satisfying snacks can help you manage hunger, while also providing your body with quality nutrition. Choose nutrient-dense, balanced options like whole food bars or a piece of fruit with a small handful of raw nuts or nut butter. A platter with vegetable sticks, homemade hummus and guacamole, olives and raw nuts will look good on any party table as a great alternative to bowls of chips and calorific creamy dips. Avoiding snacking if you aren't hungry is always a great healthy hack to practice all year round.

4. Choose Nutritious Leftovers

Is that cheese fondue or stack of pigs in a blanket calling you from the fridge after a holiday party? Some leftover options may be healthier than others. You could gift your leftovers to someone less fortunate, or freeze healthier foods for a quick "heat-and-eat" meal option another day.

5. Offer to Bring Something

Taking a dish to a gathering will not only help the host but also ensure you have more options to balance out your meal choices. That nutritious snack platter (see tip 3), a big tray of colorful baked vegetables with rosemary and rock salt, and a homemade healthy pudding using whole food ingredients and natural sweeteners can provide the wow factor and support your health goals.

6. Focus on Things Other Than Food

Be present and embrace what the holidays are all about; spending quality time with special family, friends, and connections matter more than food or drinks. Shift the focus to creating holiday memories and make mindful choices for foods you really enjoy without over-indulging.

7. Keep Active

Holidays are a great time for family or friend-group bonding activities. Make exercise fun; involve the kids or guests, go for long walks in nature, hit the dance floor, and get your usual workout in before going out. Even if you only have 10 minutes - it's still an effective way to keep fit and active and it's always better to do something then to do nothing.

8. Don't Beat Yourself Up

If you do happen to gain a few pounds over the holidays, that's OK - just get straight back to your healthier habits as soon as you can. If you have overdone it, a one-day-reset can give your digestion rest or you could do a 7-21 day full body and mind detox to rebalance your body and give you a reset boost after the holidays. Remember: the goal is to enjoy yourself and feel good about it. Instead of agonizing over what you "can't" have or being disappointed in your choices, be selective with the indulgences that are really worth it to you, and set small goals to keep up with the basics of good health while you celebrate with loved ones.

Health should be a priority all year-round as our choices impact how we feel, and vice versa. Even though your body doesn't get a holiday, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself during the holiday season. By following some or all of these healthy hacks, you can best support your body while still enjoying all the festive season has to offer.

These healthy hacks are great reminders that there really are easy ways to enjoy the holidays (and its many treats) while still staying healthy. Learn about another simple, effective strategy to keep the weight off and toxins at bay in this podcast. Wishing you Happy, Healthy Holidays!