10 Tips for a Healthy Christmas

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The holidays are here, and that means it’s time to celebrate! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other winter holiday, this time of year means family gatherings, festive decorations, warm drinks by the fire—and all-around merriment. But how can you have fun without overindulging in food and drink?

Here are 10 tips to help you stay healthy this Christmas! 

1) Don’t Go Overboard 

Be mindful of what you’re eating during Christmas! This time of year can be particularly hazardous to your health.  Christmas is filled with food and drink temptations—jumbo candy canes, cookies, pie, turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, cheesy appetizers—the list goes on. Before going overboard on holiday feasts, consider setting yourself up for success by adding a few healthy habits to your daily routine before December 25th arrives.

Try walking every day, packing your lunch, buying fresh vegetables at farmer’s markets, or making sure you’re getting 8 hours of sleep each night. By following these suggestions throughout the month of December, you’ll find that most days are enjoyable but won’t leave you feeling deprived or wishing that summer was just around the corner again. 

2) Take Advantage of Healthy Snacks 

One of our most powerful weapons against holiday weight gain is to arm ourselves with healthy snacks. That way, if we start craving high-calorie food (and who doesn’t during Thanksgiving dinner?), we can munch on something like air-popped popcorn instead. Or cut up veggies and keep them in sight, so that when hunger strikes, we can reach for carrots or celery over cookies. And drink water—plenty of it! Staying hydrated not only makes us feel full faster, but it also helps curb cravings by telling our brain we’re not as hungry as we think. 

3) Get Active Before Dinner 

Your stomach will likely be feeling pretty stretched out by dinner time, so it’s important to get in some activity before you even sit down at your holiday feast. You can go for a quick stroll with your family or friends, or if that doesn’t interest you, try going on a pre-dinner jog around your neighbourhood. Getting in some exercise can help to boost digestion and burn off some calories—plus it’ll give you more energy to spend time with loved ones later on. 

Download our Festive Survival Guide

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4) Keep Track of What You Eat 

Tracking your eating is a great way to ensure you don’t overeat during Christmas time. Keeping a food journal can be tedious, but it provides valuable insight into what you eat and when you eat it. Having that knowledge will help you make better decisions on how to spend your calories around holidays—and every day of the year. Even if you’re not on a diet or watching calories, tracking what you eat helps pinpoint problematic areas of nutrition—like high-sugar drinks—and helps give context to any dietary deficiencies or unnecessary additions. If nothing else, having data about how much you’ve eaten each day will allow you not feel so guilty about whatever treats are in store on Christmas Day!

Just keep in mind that setting up an account at MyFitnessPal isn’t enough; write down everything! That’s why we love apps like Fooducate , which grade products on nutrition labels so people know exactly how good their food choices are before they put them in their cart. 

5) Use Less Food Colouring 

Food colouring is made from synthetic dyes and, even though it’s widely used in processed foods, there is no proof that it’s safe. Here are two reasons to avoid food colouring:

1) they may be linked to hyperactivity and behaviour problems in children

2) red dye has been found to cause cancer in animals (this ingredient may be listed as Red 40 or Brilliant Blue FCF).

Try using fresh fruit and vegetables for decorations instead. If you want your traditional fruitcake or shortbread cookies, use natural food colouring made from things like beetroot juice instead of chemical dyes. This will make your foods look as festive as always without adding artificial ingredients. 

6) Give Yourself Some Space 

One of my favorite ways to stay fit during the holidays is to give myself some space. That means putting physical distance between myself and temptation. If I can’t easily get something, then I’m much less likely to eat it. So if you’re trying to lose weight over Christmas, don’t make your house a holiday food hangout by making everything available 24/7. Take your cookies and cakes out of sight, and only put them back when they’ll be eaten (I recommend not too long after you take them out). Your holiday feast should be an experience you relish because it’s special, not one that becomes part of your regular routine because you can easily have it on demand. 

7) Try Less Messy Desserts 

Preparing holiday meals is all about tradition. However, when it comes to dessert, there are plenty of ways to avoid extra calories. Desserts in place of pies and cookies may be less messy than pies and cookies, but they also tend to be lower in fat and sugar.

For example, bananas with caramel or sprinkled with dark chocolate are both delicious — and much more heart-healthy than most store-bought desserts you’ll find at holiday parties or on your family’s table. A cup of eggnog is another indulgent treat that won’t blow your diet — but skip adding whiskey! It’s loaded with calories! Instead, try hot cocoa spiced up with cinnamon instead of whipped cream. 

Try out these delicious high protein fro-yos.

8) Eat What Makes You Happy! 

christmas-dinner

So you have all these great, healthy dishes that you’re going to prepare and serve your guests, but what about dessert? When it comes to holiday desserts, moderation is key. Try a healthier version of a seasonal favourite by using less fat or sugar, or replacing traditional ingredients with whole grains, fruit or nuts. Or better yet, skip dessert altogether! Doing so will help avoid unwanted holiday weight gain. So keep those calories in check and eat what makes you happy during your next family celebration! 

9) Do Something Different This Year 

Nothing says healthy like creating new, fun traditions. Rather than exchanging gifts, invite family over to your place to enjoy an activity together—something active. Get everyone out of their comfort zone by playing Twister or cornhole outside instead of inside on your carpet. If no one wants to play with you, take them for a walk in your neighbourhood or at a nearby park. Grab some hot cocoa afterwards and make it festive! Or get everyone together in the kitchen to bake cookies—just remember that it’s OK if they don’t turn out perfect. After all, these are supposed to be good memories that will last long after Christmas! 

Learn more about weight management using the Nutrition2change Academy online course.

10) Cook more at home 

Cook at home as much as possible. Most of us will be hosting family and friends throughout December and, unfortunately, many of us will also be tempted to eat out more than we normally would. This means we’ll need to take extra precautions if we don’t want to find ourselves packed on an additional 5-15 pounds before New Year’s Day. The easiest way to avoid gaining weight during such a tempting time? Cook at home as much as possible. 

Learn more about meal planning using the Nutrition2change Academy Meal Planning Masterclass.

Summary 

When most people think of holiday eating, they picture indulgent feasts with family and friends. And while it’s perfectly normal to want to indulge during special times like these, it’s still important to maintain balance. Here are 10 healthy holiday eating tips that will help you stay on track during your time off. Make sure to incorporate them into your weekly routine now so that you can enjoy your time off without guilt. No one wants to spend Christmas worrying about making up for all of their indulgences! 

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