5 tips for maintaining healthy eating through the holiday season
By: Emily Tsang
Emily is a Certified Health and Wellness coach through AFPA (American Fitness Professionals & Associates). She holds a B.S. from MIT & is currently working in strategy & operations at Nayya, a healthcare startup. Click
Holiday season is here. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate (if any) and who you spend it with, a few things almost certain: you’ll hear Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” at some point, and you’ll be presented with situations where you can indulge in not-the-healthiest food. Nothing can be done about the former, but here are some tips to help stay on track of healthy eating during the holiday season so you can continue to feel your best!
1. Remember your macros
Whether it’s cookies and candy or buttery mashed potatoes, it can be easy to get off-balance when it come to our macro-nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each play an essential role in overall health - generally, carbohydrates are used for short-term energy, fats are used for long-term stored energy after they are broken into fatty acids, and proteins mainly help with making hormones, muscle, and other proteins. Having a good balance of all three will ensure you feel energetic and satiated. For somebody who is maintaining weight and does not have special dietary restrictions, this generally comes out to 45-65% Carbohydrates, 10-35% Protein and 20-35% Fat.
2. Sneak in whole foods (fruits, veggies, and nuts) when you can
You’ll be surprised by how many instances you can sneak in some fruits and vegetables without sacrificing flavor - and in some cases, maybe even enhancing it. Throw in some extra fruits and nuts onto the charcuterie board, or maybe some extra spinach or kale into the dip. Roasted veggies (zucchini, carrots, broccoli, etc.) make a great side dish for nearly any meal, and get creative with adding fruits to desserts!
3. Try some healthy alternatives in holiday favorites
If your budget and dietary restrictions allow, there are some easy swaps to make meals and snacks more nutrient-packed. Some of my favorite include: baking instead of frying, whole grains instead of white, and yogurt instead of ice cream
4. Let yourself loose a little bit and enjoy!
Okay, this one seems counterintuitive - but hear me out. Typically, sustainable and long-term habits stem from overall lifestyle changes, not “banning” certain foods or full-on restricting any unhealthy eating whatsoever. If you generally eat in a way that is balanced, clean, and makes you feel good, how much damage is one meal or even one day of “unhealthy” eating going to be? Especially if it is in a situation that makes you feel happy or relaxed? Probably none. Plus, stress you may feel about trying to eat healthy or guilt from over-indulging can trigger hormones that can impact your health as well.
5. ... But everything is better in moderation
The advice above is not to say that you should eat a full day’s worth of butter cookies. Rather, these tips above can help you to feel more prepared for the upcoming holiday season and perhaps quell any concerns you have if you feel you have “fallen off” your healthy eating path. And remember - you don’t have just the holiday season to get in all your indulgent eating, so these tips can apply at any time. Almost everything is available year round, so as long as you continue eat balanced meals and indulge in moderation, you’ll come out of the holiday season feeling great!
I am not a medical professional and as a health and wellness coach, I am not providing healthcare, medical, or nutritional therapy services or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue, disease or condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before undertaking a new health regimen. Do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice because of information you receive. Do not start or stop any medications without speaking to your medical or mental health provider.