Surviving the Holidays: Our How-To Guide on having a Healthy Holiday Season
The Nutrition in Motion Healthy Holiday Survival Guide!
The Holidays are rapidly approaching and for most people that means busier schedules, more parties and events, maybe some added stress, less time to exercise, and all kinds of food and drinks everywhere. All of these factors can impact our health and wellbeing over the Holidays and make it difficult to stay on track and easy for things to get out of control. The Holidays are meant to be a time for family and friends, togetherness, gratitude, generosity, and joy but we can often lose focus because of all of the other stuff we have going on and feel like we’re expected to do. All of us at Nutrition in Motion want you to be able to focus on those aspects of the Holiday season so we put together a handy Holiday Survival Guide for you.
Our Holiday Survival Guide is here to help you stay on track with your goals, maintain all the progress that you have made, and maintain a good balance between your well-loved Holiday traditions and your healthy habits.
Here are our tips for how to, not just survive, but thrive during this Holiday season:
At Home with your Family
▪ Continue to keep only healthy foods in your house–By meal planning and having healthy foods around the house, you will be able to stick with your healthy eating plan most of the time and save those special treats for the parties and events that you go to.
▪ Do not keep leftovers around the house— With the Holidays, it can be okay to go all in on one or two days but when we have the treats or the less healthy foods readily available, one day turns into a week and then into an entire Holiday season and that’s when we can gain weight and make choices that aren’t the healthiest for us. If you get rid of the leftovers, you won’t be tempted with those unhealthy foods and can get right back to healthy eating and habits the day after the Holiday or the party.
▪ Have a family maintain don’t gain challenge–Try to get your family on board with your healthier lifestyle! We do better when we feel supported and have people around us that are committed to similar goals. If you can get your family on board, it will make it easier to stay on track as you go through the Holidays.
▪ Have family gatherings that don’t revolve around food or encourage family members to bring healthy alternatives–Two things that can be extremely helpful to staying healthy during the Holidays is by getting your extended family on board with the healthier choices too. Having a combination of healthier food options and incorporating more non-food related activities, such as family games, going for a walk outside, or watching your favorite Holiday movie together, can set you up to be more successful and have your family on board with healthier choices too.
▪ Recipe makeovers— Make healthier versions of your favorite Holiday treats! There are so many great recipes out there to replicate the traditional Holiday foods but in a healthier way. You can often find healthier versions of Holiday recipes by putting “paleo”, “Whole30”, or even just “healthy” in front of the food you want a recipe for and that will give you some good options. We’ve included a couple recipes at the end of this post for Thanksgiving Turkey Meatballs and Cranberry dipping sauce.
▪ Have a maintain don’t gain challenge with your co-workers— Try to get your coworkers on board to do a mini Holiday challenge with you. That way, all of you will hold each other accountable at work and make healthier choices overall even with all the Holiday festivities.
▪ Encourage your coworkers to bring in healthy snacks–If you have a potluck or a work party, try to encourage your coworkers to bring healthier choices so you have more of a balance. Also, feel comfortable bringing your own meal to eat and a healthy item for the potluck. This way you can fill up on your healthy balanced meal and just sample one or two shared items.
▪ Avoid places where there are unhealthy foods— This can be hard to do, especially when there seem to be Holiday treats everywhere you turn, but if you can, try to avoid areas where the unhealthy foods are most concentrated. Leftovers from potlucks, parties, and takeout orders seem to end up in the break rooms or the kitchens at work so try to avoid those areas. Also, stock your desk and your lunchbox with healthy choices that are delicious and that you will choose over the unhealthy options.
▪ Bring a healthy food with you— At parties, there are usually a lot of unhealthy choices available so something you can do is to bring a healthy food with you to share. By doing that, you know that you will have something you can eat and also have your friends and family try something healthy that they will likely enjoy as well. There are a lot of great healthy appetizer recipes and Holiday party food recipes online!
▪ Look around and choose wisely— When you get to a party, scope out what is available and based on what’s there, you can choose what you would like to eat. If there is something there that is your absolute favorite Holiday dish, then have some of it and then just balance it out with what else you eat. If you splurge on a couple of your favorite Holiday foods, fill the rest of your plate with veggies, salad, protein, and healthy fats so you have a good balance.
▪ Avoid standing near the food table–This is one that you may not always think to do, especially because people are usually centered around where the food is at parties. When you’re doing something else like talking to people, listening to music, or watching a football game when you’re next to the food, you are not as mindful about your food and can mindlessly eat what is in front of you. By getting your food first and then relocating to another area, you are more mindful about your food choices and can be more present with the people you are with at the party.
Ideas for Fitting In Exercise
▪ Make it social – Make a plan to meet your friends or family members for a fitness class. Fitness is always more fun with friends so you can all try something new together like a Zumba class, Boot Camp or Crossfit classes, or Yoga. You could also start a new family tradition where you all going for a walk together after the big meal, or if it’s too cold outside, have a fun family dance party indoors. If you choose the Dance party option, Wedding playlists on Youtube, Spotify or Apple Music are usually a great choice to get everybody dancing.
▪ 10-15 minutes of the right type of exercise is all you need–Just getting your body moving for a short time is beneficial, so even if you can only get in a 15 minute workout, that’s still great! If you have limited time to workout, try to do high intensity for a shorter amount of time. There are a lot of 10-20 minute workouts online that you can do at home that do not require a lot of equipment. Those can be as challenging as you want to make them and get you moving. Any movement, even if it is short, is better than no movement at all.
▪ Get it over with first thing in the morning–Start your day with your workout so you can make sure to get it done before getting too busy with Holiday festivities. It can be easy for exercise to fall to the bottom of the priority list when we’re busy. By getting it done early in the day, you will still be able to make it a priority, you will feel great the rest of the day, and still have time for everything else you have to do.
To give you a head start on healthy recipes for the Holidays, here is our recipe for a delicious dish that you can bring to all of your events and parties this year:
Thanksgiving Turkey Meatballs
- 1lb ground turkey
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1-2 T coconut flour, sifted*
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, mashed pumpkin and egg. Add the spices and mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add the sifted coconut flour until the mixture is firm yet still moist. Form into golf ball sized balls and set aside.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place meatballs on baking sheet and bake in oven for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for 5 more minutes or until cooked through.
Serve immediately or allow to cool completely before freezing or refrigerating.
Cranberry Apple Dipping Sauce
- 12 oz. package fresh cranberries
- 1 Cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1⁄2 Cup Honey
- 1⁄4 tsp nutmeg
- 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1-2 apples
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until cranberries burst and apple begins to break down.
Press through mesh strainer or foley food mill and discard excess fibrous material. Place in refrigerator to achieve desired consistency.
The Holidays can be a tough time for people at all levels of their health journeys so just be kind to yourself, try to make the best choices that you can, and still enjoy your favorite things about this time of year. We hope these tips help you this upcoming Holiday season to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle, help you to stress less, and allow you to focus more on what the Holidays are really about: togetherness, peace, joy, and love.
If you find yourself in need of a little extra guidance or support during this Holiday season, remember all of us at Nutrition in Motion are always here to support you and your health journey! VISITS WITH A REGISTERED DIETITIAN ARE COVERED BY MOST INSURANCE CARRIERS. ASK US A QUESTION OR REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT FOR HELP SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS