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Healthy Holiday Habits

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Written by Health writer Gerda Venter & Dr. Daniela Steyn

Healthy habits are relatively easy to establish and adhere to when life is ordinary. However, you suddenly have a hectic social schedule during the holiday season, the kids are home from school, and your healthy habits are the first to go out the door.

The food, fun and family of Thanksgiving are now behind us, but still ahead are the Winter holidays, bringing more meals, parties, and gift-giving festivities. Keeping healthy habits might seem daunting, with many opportunities to indulge in delicious foods and beverages. The good news is that minor changes to your holiday festivities will bring huge rewards once the new year comes around. At our WellnessMD Clinic, we teach our clients to move away from dieting and away from restrictive eating patterns, which often result in overindulgence and emotional guilt after.

Let's avoid "losing weight" or "living a healthier life" to be your New Year's resolution by following these healthy holiday habits.

Healthy Eating Habits

The holiday season is a way to spend some much-needed time away from work with friends and family. It is a time to enjoy delicious home-cooked meals around the table with loved ones. However, these meals are often the opposite of what you would consume normally. If this sounds all too familiar, that's because it happens to us all this time of year. It's not something to get caught up in. In fact, you must find the time to let go this time of year. Finding the balance between letting go and feeling like you completely lost yourself can be challenging. Here are some healthy eating strategies to help you through this festive season.

1. Don't arrive on an empty stomach

Stop the cravings before they start by eating a small, healthy meal before you leave the house. By doing this, you are likely to consume healthier portions due to not sitting down at the table starving. However, you may be tempted to skip a meal so you can splurge on party food, don't! Skipping breakfast or lunch may cause you to overeat and consume more calories than you would if you had eaten something beforehand.

2. Bring a healthy dish to share

Bring a healthy dish with you. Consider getting a vegetable dish or a fruit platter instead of a savory meal or decadent dessert. By doing so, healthier options are available for everyone. Snack on fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and celery sticks with a hummus dip.

3. Throw out the unhealthy leftovers, keep the healthy ones

When you are the host, your fridge might quickly fill with leftovers, and you may feel pressure to consume them before they spoil. However, if you only keep the healthy leftovers, you avoid late-night temptations to consume unhealthy treats.

4. Pack travelling snacks

If your holiday festivities are a considerable distance from home, consider the benefits of packing healthy snacks for the car to curb any cravings before you get to the event. Include filling snacks that are easy for travelling, such as homemade granola, carrot sticks, nuts, or fruit.

5. Choose smaller portions and don't go back for seconds

When baking holiday treats, use mini-muffin tins, make smaller cookies and slice smaller pieces of dessert. Prepare your favorite holiday recipes with fewer calories by replacing higher-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese with lower fat varieties. Substitute sugar with natural sugars, like honey or maple sugar. At parties, don't stand by the food table. Instead, move around and talk to as many people as possible.

6. Eat slowly

Be mindful when you eat. Don't gobble down food while running after your kids. Practice mindfulness and gratitude with everything you consume. Your brain takes about 20 minutes to register when you are full. By savoring each mouthful of food, setting your fork down and taking sips of water throughout a meal, your brain will have more time to recognize you are ful