Building Healthy Habits Through the Holidays

You can begin building healthy habits even through the holidays to truly enjoy time spent with loved ones, set a new pattern for the upcoming year, and avoid the uncomfortable effects of overindulgence.

Posted by Leanna on December 19, 2017

The holiday season is a festive time of the year where many reconnect with their family members and friends. These events offer a moment to relax, reflect on one’s blessings, or perhaps even take in one of the big games on TV.

Of course, the holidays are also traditionally centered around big feasts, sometimes leaving an individual feeling like a proverbial stuffed turkey! Unfortunately, this can create a pattern of eating that often continues for the rest of the holiday season - and beyond.

For those that overindulged, they may very well find themselves greeting the New Year with 10 or even 15 extra pounds.

Thankfully, you can begin building healthy habits even through the holidays to truly enjoy time spent with loved ones, set a new pattern for the upcoming year, and avoid the uncomfortable effects of overindulgence.

Choose Your Focus

Before your big feast(s) arrives, ask yourself: what is most important about the day and why are we gathering at this event?

Is it really because you want to have two helpings of Aunt Jane’s butter and sugar-laden sweet potato dish or is it because you only get to see her once a year to catch up on family news?

It might sound trite, but focusing on the spirit of the holiday and truly appreciating your loved ones will empower you to converse with that grandparent or cousin you rarely see…rather than hanging around the kitchen for a second helping of apple pie.

Take a Proactive Stance

If you really want to remain in control of what you will eat during holiday dinners, offer to have the family gathering at your home. When that’s not an option, agree to bring a dish or two that you prepared from healthy recipes.

The more power you have over what is actually served at the meal, the more healthier choices available when deciding what to eat.

Filling Your Plate

Often, holiday meals center around a roasted turkey or chicken. This is great news for those who want to have healthy options.

Lean turkey or chicken meat is a stellar choice as compared to generous servings of most casserole dishes found at family dinners. So when selecting items for your plate, roast turkey or chicken is a winner.

If you attend a dinner only serving ham or beef, they’re still better options than loading up on foods high in sugar or carbohydrates with low nutritional value.

When preparing your own meals, there is a tremendous assortment of delicious vegetable recipes online. You can maximize flavor through the use of spices, garlic, onions, peppers and/or a splash of orange or lemon juice.

Therefore, find recipes that focus on flavorful, healthy ingredients. Be sure to load up on these healthy choices rather than selecting a dish packed with cream, butter and/or sugar.

Drinks and Dessert

Many beverages at holiday gatherings are simply sugar-laden punches or cranberry “juices” with minimal cranberry juice in them.

Go for water instead. In the event you’re hosting have the meal at your home, add a splash of unsweetened cranberry or orange juice to bring some interesting flavor to your drink.

Having wine? Stick to a single 4 oz. glass, perhaps choosing to savor it after the meal rather than gulping it through dinner.

Many holiday desserts include ingredients like pumpkin and apples, which are actually very healthy. It’s all the butter, cream, and sugar added that greatly increases their calorie count.

Again, look for recipes that focus on these base ingredients along with spices and healthier options like fat-free evaporated milk and eggs, opposed to butter and cream. Building in portion control helps as well.

Consider making pumpkin or apple pie tartlets rather than an entire pie.

Mindfully Pick Your Indulgence

Hopefully, most of your plate is filled with lean meat and wonderfully flavored vegetable dishes, but it’s ok to leave a little room for a special indulgence. The key is to pick wisely.

Do you really want to waste calories on a store-bought white roll you can have any time? Wouldn’t a more memorable selection be a spoonful of your grandmother’s made-from-scratch stuffing?

Savoring something you truly want is much smarter than wasting calories on a forgettable food item.

Building Healthy Habits is Doable

By putting your attention mainly on those you’re gathering with and focusing on healthier food options while still leaving room for an annual “must have” favorite, you’ll retain control of the day.

You’ll still enjoy the holiday and won’t spend the evening feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Best of all, you will avoid much of the weight gain that people experience during the holidays.


Don’t forget about your fitness! You can easily incorporate fun workout programs with Sworkit for 5 or 10 minutes in your day to help you stay healthy this holiday season. Try it free for 7-days.