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Friends toasting over a table with food for a holiday party

How to make Healthy Habits Stick during the holidays

Written by: Alyssa Paglia, RD


It can be easy to let healthy habits slip through the cracks during the holidays. In this blog post, we’ll explore 9 practical tips to help you enjoy the festivities without sacrificing your health. 



Stick to your normal meal schedule


Resist the urge to skip breakfast on the day of holiday gatherings to “save calories” for the big event. If you show up hungry, you’ll be more likely to overindulge in holiday treats. Instead, eat a high-protein, fiber-rich breakfast to help stabilize your blood sugars and reduce cravings so that you’ll be less likely to overeat later in the day. Choose options like a veggie omelet with whole wheat toast, greek yogurt with berries and a small handful of almonds, or 2 scoops of Goode Health mixed with 16 oz water.


Bring a healthy dish to share


Traditional holiday foods tend to be high in calories and low in protein and fiber. One of the best ways to ensure that there’s a nutritious option available is to ask the host if you can bring an appetizer or side dish to share. You can find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest by searching “healthy holiday recipes”.


Be mindful of alcohol consumption 


Alcohol adds empty calories and impairs judgment, which may lead to overindulgence and weight gain. Consider opting for flavored non-alcoholic seltzers or plain water to give yourself a break between cocktails. 


Savor your favorite foods and skip the rest


Chances are, not every holiday food is your favorite. Sometimes we eat certain foods due to tradition or simply because they’re there, not because we actually enjoy them. This is your sign to skip Aunt Grace’s holiday fruit cake so you can enjoy a guilt-free slice of the pie you’ve been craving for months. The same logic applies to toppings, gravies and sauces. If you couldn’t imagine eating mashed potatoes without gravy or turkey without cranberry sauce, then by all means, go for it. But if you feel indifferent about it, then skip the toppings. Those empty calories are better spent elsewhere. 


Make time for physical activity  


Looking for an excuse to leave the dinner table when your family starts talking about politics or your personal life? Tell them that your dietitian said you have to get your steps in. Regular physical activity can help manage stress and burn extra calories, which can be particularly helpful during the holiday season.  Whether it’s a full workout or a quick walk, moving your body daily can help you stay on track with your health goals. 


Avoid mindless snacking


Be mindful of your body’s hunger cues and avoid snacking when you aren’t hungry.  It’s easy to overindulge when you’re engaged in conversation and not paying attention, especially if you’re standing next to the appetizer table. I recommend portioning out your snacks on a small plate rather than mindlessly nibbling on chips, dips, or cheese. 


Watch your portion sizes 


Portion control is key for avoiding holiday weight gain. One method is to fill two thirds of your plate with salads/veggies and protein (chicken, turkey, fish, etc) as these options are typically lower in calories and more filling. When it comes to calorie-dense side dishes like creamy scalloped potatoes, take smaller helpings and avoid piling foods on top of each other. Using a smaller plate can also be helpful.


Modify your recipes


There are a number of substitutions you can make to reduce the saturated fat and/or sugar content of your recipes. For example, butter can be replaced with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas (1 banana = 1 stick of butter; ½ cup applesauce = 1 cup of butter).  I’ll be honest though — the final product might not turn out to your liking. Rather than wasting time and money on experiments, I prefer to choose recipes from food bloggers who have already done the labor for me. One of my favorites is Amy’s Healthy Baking. The recipe descriptions provide a lot of educational value about why certain substitutions will work and others won’t.  The comments are helpful too. 


Support your immune system


Viruses are party favors no one wants to receive. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to catch something when you’re huddled indoors during holiday celebrations. Sleep, stress management, and nutrition are 3 key things to pay attention to here. Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night and implement stress management techniques like meditation or deep breathing when things start to feel overwhelming. Meeting your protein and micronutrient needs will help your immune system function at its best. I highly recommend Goode Health immune booster for an additional boost of polyphenols, echinacea, Vitamin C, and zinc, as well as 15 grams of protein per scoop.