Healthy for the Holidays: 5 Festive Tips

The holidays create a stress that pairs perfectly with sweets and a sedentary lifestyle. Here's how to survive the holidays while indulging a bit.

Ah the holidays. A time to deck the halls with scented candles and weather the insanity of the season of shopping. These special months of the year create a specific stress that seems to pair perfectly with sweets, treats, and a sedentary lifestyle. Learn how to survive the holidays, and indulge a bit, without losing sight of your health and wellness. 

You time is not a crime 

The holidays are often shaped by socializing and shopping. Even if you’re an extrovert, it’s important to take some you time to recharge. Gift the people you love with the best version of yourself. 

Prioritize your self care this year by waking up a few minutes early to do a few stretches or go for a solo stroll. Grab a cup of tea and journal what’s on your mind or fill out a food diary as a proven way to help keep you on track (1). Even if it’s hard to escape family and friends, grab your phone and listen to a quick medication in the bathroom or right before bedtime. 

Make moving easy

Maintaining regular exercise is important for your mental and physical health. It can help reduce anxiety and stress levels (2). But when life gets busy, it can be challenging to carve out workout time at the gym. If you live somewhere where the winters get really cold, outdoor workouts are also out. 

Maintaining healthy habits is all about easy, attainable goals. Set yourself up for success by sticking to an easy goal such as 15 minutes a day and making it something you enjoy.  

  • Walk with family or friends or go for a morning jog (weather permitting).
  • Sneak in a quick at-home workout.
  • Break out bands, weights or simply use your own body weight.  

As an added bonus, getting moving after eating a feast can help balance your blood sugar. This is important for sustained energy and helps to curb cravings (3). 

Pause before filling your plate  

Eating mindfully can help control portion sizes and encourage healthy choices. It gives you that extra insight into: “do I really want that?” 

Taking a few deep breaths before digging in can also help stop us from reaching a stuffed state. Studies have shown that eating slower gives our stomachs time to indicate to our brains when we’ve had enough. This can prevent overeating (4), as well as giving you and your meal the time it deserves at the dinner table. 

If you’re concerned about portion control, use a smaller plate. Studies suggest that since we consume most of what we serve ourselves, creating a size-contrast illusion can help regulate how much we eat (5). 

Regulate your routine 

Even if you know you’ll be having a heavy meal, try to stick to your regular eating habits. If you arrive famished at the meal, you’re much more likely to overeat. The more you restrict leading up to the meal, the less likely your body can override temptations. Eat normally throughout the day and include balanced, wholesome foods

Getting a good night’s rest is essential for mental and physical health. Sleep balances hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your levels of ghrelin go up and leptin goes down. This can make you feel more hungry and have more cravings than you would if you got adequate sleep (6).

Want to Sleep Better? We’ve Got Just What You Need

Reach for healthy recipes and substitutions 

People who cook at home more often, rather than eating out or having highly processed foods, tend to have healthier diets (7). Eating at home increases fruit and vegetable intake, which helps provide nutrients, prevents disease, and moderates weight (8). 

Substituting vegetables for heavier side dishes can help you fill up with fewer calories. Vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and contain important nutrients, such as dietary fiber and vitamins A and C, which can keep your immune system healthy to fend off any holiday illness (9). They also add lots of color to your meals. 

Need some holiday recipe inspiration? Check out these delicious dishes, perfect for a fit feast:

Roasted Cauliflower with Dates and Pine Nuts

Beetroot Risotto with Feta Cheese

Flank Steak with Roasted Potatoes

Gingerbread Balls

9 references (hide)

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