Healthy Holiday Eating: 5 Tips to Maintain Good Habits

Healthy holiday eating doesn’t mean dieting or not enjoying your favorite seasonal foods. With all the tasty dishes and events and parties, it may seem impossible not to gain 10 pounds. Don’t fret! Travelers can indulge in their feast favorites and maintain their current weight. And once it’s all over, everyone will feel better knowing they practiced healthy habits. Here are five tips to help maintain weight while enjoying holiday meals.

5 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips for Travelers

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Photo: Satya Murthy

Don’t Skip Meals

As tempting as it seems to skip meals to leave room for holidays feasts, this causes overeating. Before going to a holiday gathering, snack on something healthy and filling. Some options include: raw veggies, protein or granola bars, bananas and oranges, whole-grain cereals, or a few slices of low-fat meats, such as chicken.

These foods will curb your appetite and prevent overeating. Try to also keep it light for other meals. For example, if attending a dinner event, eat a light breakfast and lunch.

Practice Portion Control

Dressings, gravy, casseroles, breads and desserts. As delicious as they all look, portion control is everything. However, you can have it all. Limit portions by serving one spoonful or cutting a serving size in half.

Instead of having a whole buttered role, cut it in half. Substitute a heaping spoonful of casserole for a regular size – think a ¼-cup serving. If sampling every dessert, cut servings in half as well.

Another way to limit portions is to pick favorites first. After eating the favorites, wait 15 to 20 minutes to digest, then go back for seconds if still hungry. If there’s something you missed, ask for the recipe and make it at home.

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Work in Exercise

Exercise helps burn unwanted calories. There are two effective approaches to working in exercise during the holidays. First, if you regularly workout, then stay on routine. To accommodate the holiday schedule, change the time of day or length of the workout. Try working out for 15 minutes twice a day, instead of a straight 30-minute routine.

An alternative is to exercise at the event. Take kids outside for a game, such as football or hide-and-seek. It may surprise you how many other adults will join, too. If attending an adult-only event, stand up and walk around for 15 minutes after eating. This speeds up metabolism and helps digestion. Going for a walk around the neighborhood with friends or family is another good option for light exercise after meals.

Limit Sugar Intake

Desserts are delicious. While they tempt the us the most, it’s important to limit sugar intake, which equals unnecessary calories. While sugar seems to boost energy, studies show the crash afterwards is much worse. Too much sugar will leave travelers feeling tired, affect blood-sugar levels, and help pack on weight.

For desserts: Either limit the serving amount, or bring a small container and take them home for later – preferably the next day. Those who love cocktails and wine should limit to two drinks or glasses, and if available use skinny glasses. Soda, punch and juice drinkers should drink from mini cans or bottles, or pour the liquid into a glass full of ice.

Reduce Stress

Many people eat out of stress, so eliminating it helps us eat healthier and avoid binge-eating. While out shopping, carry or buy a healthy snack instead of grabbing a slice of pizza or giant cookie. To reduce stress at home, try deep-breathing exercises, reconnecting with a relative or friend, watching a holiday movie, or meditation. Avoid substances that increase your heart-rate, such as caffeine, sugar and nicotine.

Work also plays a big factor in stress. A few work tips include delegating work, using good time management practices and taking regular five-minute mental breaks. At the end of the day, you will feel accomplished and less stressed, allowing you to make healthier decisions.

Read our tips for safe traveling during the holidays.