If you want to stay healthy during the holidays, focus on eating nutritious whole foods and getting in regular exercise to create healthy routines that kick-start your new year!
Between your work holiday party, baked goods, hot chocolate, cocktail parties and big family dinners, the holidays are notorious for throwing us out of our normal healthy routines. I don’t even have a big sweet tooth, but I find myself reaching for more and more sweet treats and savory items during these colder months.
When your fridge is filled with less healthy options, it’s easy to get into the habit of grabbing a little something here and there. Before I know it, I look up and my pants are suddenly tighter, I’m bloated and feeling sluggish. It’s easy to fall out of our into bad habits over the holidays, but to feel our best during the most wonderful time of the year, making our health a priority is key!
Not only to keep all the illness away, but also to allow us to feel our best throughout the season.
Here’s a few simple tricks to stay healthy during the holidays so you can feel your best and really enjoy the season to the fullest.
9 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays and Start the New Year Right
Drink More Water
In the summer, drinking plenty of water is easy—it’s hot outside and I’m thirsty, but in winter, I struggle with it a bit more. Mostly because I love ice water, and drinking a lot of ice water when it’s 24 degrees outside just isn’t as appealing! The easiest way for me to drink more water is to keep a big 32oz. water bottle at my desk. I aim to refill it 3x a day—it doesn’t always happen, but either way, it keeps me drinking plenty of water.
But, drinking plenty of water not only keeps our digestion working well, it also keeps us more alert and energetic, and keeps skin clear. Staying hydrated can also help keep cravings away. Often when I think I’m hungry, I’ll drink a glass of water first and realize I was actually just thirsty.
A good hack for holiday parties, is to make sure you drink a glass of water between every glass of wine or cocktail. Not only does this help prevent hangovers, you stay hydrated and can potentially cut back on some liquid calories.
If sipping water or drinking nothing makes you feel uncomfortable at a party, opt for sparkling water with a squeeze of lime in it. It feels festive and chances are, no one will ask you why you’re not drinking.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Healthy habits start first thing in the morning! If you’re able to start making healthy decisions from the beginning of your day, it snowballs and you’re able to continue making healthier decisions as your day goes on.
I know it can be tempting to grab one of those cinnamon rolls that your neighbor just dropped off, but I challenge you to ask yourself—how will this make me feel? When I frame things in this way, it makes it easy to make a healthier decision, because I simply don’t want to feel lethargic and weighed down all day.
My go-to healthy breakfast is a green juice and then 30 minutes later I’ll make this gut-healing green smoothie or an açaí bowl. The green juice helps with hydration, digestion and mental clarity, and the smoothie is filled with fiber that keeps me full until lunch.
Cook Healthy Winter Recipes at Home
With two kids, we don’t go out that much, but the up-side is that cooking healthy winter meals at home is always healthier than eating at a restaurant. As an added bonus, it saves a ton of money.
Having a few healthy, go-to meals on hand is key. A few our family loves is salmon with a vegetable and grain, chicken noodle soup (our kids DEVOUR this one), and simple roasted chicken with vegetables and rice.
We keep healthy winter snacks on hand to curb any cravings and keep us on track. For us, that looks like fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds and energy bites that I keep in the fridge for easy snacking.
Lately, I’ve been trying to cut out wine during the week to balance out the parties on the weekends. Plus, when I don’t drink, I sleep much better!
Ditch Restrictive Diets
Personally, I’m not big on restriction. That’s part of the reason anytime I’ve tried to go vegan or vegetarian, it doesn’t last. I live by the everything in moderation rule! When I cut something out entirely, I feel guilty when I do eat it.
Food is simply food, I think getting the idea that there are good foods and bad foods out of our head is so helpful. Instead, think of it this way—there are foods that make me feel good and foods that make me feel less than ideal.
Whether that’s sweets, a glass of wine, a heavier meal—if you want to have it, go for it! Do not beat yourself up about it. Then at your next meal, go back to making choices that make your body feel good.
Move your Body Regularly
My favorite way to move my body is to get outside for a walk, but in the winter, it’s harder for me because it’s so cold.
Find an exercise that you love during this time of the year and make it a priority to move your body 4-5 times a week. We live in Denver and it still gets sunny most days, so when it’s not absolutely freezing, I love to bundle up and get out for a walk. It keeps you active, you get to admire the holiday decor and fresh air and sunlight are essential for keeping our circadian rhythm in check.
For indoor exercises, there are so many amazing online workout plans you can subscribe to that will cost less than a gym membership and don’t require much equipment. Melissa Wood Health remains a favorite of mine and is only $9.99/month.
Use a Smaller Plate
If you find yourself eating way more than you wanted, opt for serving your meal on a smaller plate. All this is, is an optical illusion. When we have a big plate, we naturally will fill it. The small plate looks more full with less food and keeps you from piling on extras.
It can be harder to healthy during the holidays, especially if you’re at party or restaurant and you can’t control what is served. Aim to fill your plate with more vegetables than anything else. The fiber will help keep you full and curb cravings.
If you’re hosting, opt for healthy food for the holidays! There are so many amazing root vegetables and grain dishes you can serve this time of year.
If you’re still feeling hungry, wait 15 minutes before you head back for more. It takes your brain a bit to realize your stomach is full.
Healthier Social Activities
I’ll be the first to admit, when someone says girls night, the first thing that pops into my head is dinner and drinks. But, there are so many other ways to enjoy spending time with friends that doesn’t involve food and alcohol.
Getting together for coffee, a workout class, going for a walk, or going to a pottery class instead of the bar are all easy ways to switch up your regular routine for something new and exciting.
Get Plenty of Sleep to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Sleep is an absolute necessity for me to function and feel like a normal person, but it’s also essential for keeping our bodies healthy and immune systems strong. Creating a healthy routine around sleeping and bedtime makes this easy.
Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Sleep in a dark, cool room with a sound machine. Avoid looking at screens before bed, and take a hot shower or bath before you crawl into bed. This always gets me super relaxed and ready for sleep!
How Do You Want to Feel Next Year?
I love asking this question to myself because the answer is obvious. I want to feel GOOD! Energetic, clear and happy.
That all starts now.
It can definitely tough to stay healthy this time of year, but it’s not impossible! At the end of the day, we make the choices and we have the power in any instant to change things. Decide how you want to feel and then take action in a way that supports your desires.
I hope these holiday healthy tips keep you on track for a happy, healthy holiday season and an easy transition into the new year. What tricks do you have for staying healthy during the holidays?