Quick Tips for Eating Healthy During the Holidays

by Deena on December 22, 2010

Well if your life is anything like mine and Angela’s, starting around the Thanksgiving holiday on through to the New Year we’re just surrounded by yummy holiday foods.  School parties, office parties, cookie swaps, social gatherings, caroling with that certain neighbor’s signature spiked Christmas drink….  all of those favorite holiday foods and traditions that only come around once a year.

So how do we retain some balance on our healthy lifestyle while still enjoying all the festivities?

Below are some tips that we’ve found to be useful.

Don’t starve yourself

I know I’m guilty of having done this in the past.  Logic being that if I don’t eat all day then I would have more calories that I could consume that evening on holiday foods.  Sounds like a half-way decent idea but it’s not…  All you end up with is an easily agitated  person (my husband will attest to this) who will then go on to consume way more calories than usual because she’s starving.  And after consuming one alcoholic drink, will be the life of the party due to having nothing else in her system to absorb the alcohol.

My strong recommendation is to snack on healthy foods throughout the day.  Fruit, nuts, hummus, or fresh veggies.  Then you’ll be less tempted to find out if you can consume the entire tray of cookies by yourself in one sitting.

Drink Water

Alcoholic beverages and many fruit punches can be high in calories.  So try to add a couple glasses of water to your beverage consumption while you’re enjoying the festivities.  Not only will this keep you from drinking too many glasses of alcohol, it will also help you to feel full, so you’ll be less likely to overeat.  I try to drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol.   I won’t say that I stick with that ratio consistently, but I try.

Think Tapas (small dishes)

I don’t know if everyone has this issue but I do… My eyes are always bigger than my stomach.  I end up with too much food on my plate and then feel guilty because I know there are people in this world who are hungry.  So my solution has been to go “tapas-style”.  Tapas is the name of a wide variety of appetizers or Spanish dishes where focus of the meal is not on the food but on the actual mingling and conversations with friends.   There are generally 8-10 tapas dishes and each person has a small plate that they put a few tapas on.   The small plates encourage people to pick a couple items they really want to try while mingling and socializing with guest.

So when you’re at the holiday buffet, grab a small plate and go tapas-style, picking a couple items that you really want to try.  The small plate will also help with overeating since you aren’t piling up a 9 to 10 inch dinner plate.  Remember this doesn’t prohibit you from going back for more if you’re still hungry.  It does give you a chance to enjoy your food and mingle prior to deciding if you need that second plate or not.


You’ll be less likely to overeat if you are enjoying yourself and socializing with friends, neighbors, or co-workers.    Your focus should be on having fun, not eating.  If you position yourself next to the buffett table, most likely you’ll start grazing and before long you’ll have no idea how much you’ve eaten.  (Thus back to my tapas tip – small plates so you know how much is being consumed).

Forgive Yourself

This is probably the most important tip…  if by chance you throw all the tips above out the window and end up having too much food, alcohol, or fun… and wake up feeling less than fabulous, just remember we’ve all been there.   There was a particular year that my husband and I made it to my company holiday party; my husband’s company party was later the same night…. We never made it to his. And I have yet to hear the end of it 🙂 The great thing about mornings is it brings a whole new day to start things fresh again.

We hope you have a happy and healthy holiday.

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