Staying Healthy During the Holidays: 7 Essential Tips

The five

I remember years ago when I did Weight Watchers the meetings would become a ghost town between Thanksgiving and New Year, ironically when all of us could likely benefit most from the check in, group support and motivation. There are so many articles out there about staying healthy during the holidays but I’m not doing most of them; I don’t have a million extra hours and definitely not extra time to start testing out new healthy recipes. I’ve learned over the years to stick to what works, with a few key strategies that help me stay on track and avoid starting the new year feeling blah.

Try these tips for staying healthy during the holidays… or at least healthy-ish!

Consider: Is it worth it?

Honestly, stick to this and all will be good. Are there certain foods around the holidays that completely fill you with joy, that you love and that you wait all year for? Girl, indulge and most importantly, feel ZERO GUILT when you eat it. Enjoy every delicious bite. But, if you take a bite of something indulgent and it’s super meh, don’t keep eating it. It’s not worth all the fat, calories, sugar and who knows what else.

Every day is a new day / don’t give up on yourself

So, you went a little B-A-N-A-N-A-S last night… that’s OK! Today is a new day. Don’t feel guilty or get mad at yourself. We are all human and have those nights. You can’t go back in time and today is a new day. Fuel your body with foods that make you feel good. I find including some greens and protein works wonders (I eat two hard boiled eggs every single morning). Basically, don’t give up on yourself if you had one indulgent (avoid using the word “bad” — they’re not bad if you enjoy it!) meal, night, day or weekend.

Never go to events starving

Seriously, when is this a good decision?! The minute you see a tray of anything you’re going all in, even if it’s not what you’d normally eat. Don’t do that – again, not worth it. If I’m famished, I’ll grab a handful of almonds or a kid-sized RX bar (get them here), plus down some water to satiate me and ensure I don’t walk in hangry. You really don’t want to be near me when I’m hangry. 😉

Work out and stay moving

Food isn’t important to some people…. they just eat when they’re hungry. I don’t get that. Food is very important to me! So balance is critical. I feel infinitely better when I prioritize working out, going for a walk, or moving in any capacity. Hey, even a major shopping session is a workout (trying on all the clothes!). Get a friend involved if you need the motivation, and definitely put it on your calendar. Don’t make excuses and don’t cancel on yourself. Prioritize you. And, be honest: I know I’m never going to get to the gym 7 days a week and I don’t want to fail and get in a downward spiral, so I plan on 2-3 times per week. And remember, any movement you do is better than what you don’t.

Use smaller plates

Crazy but true but I LOVE going back for seconds, lol. There’s just something about it. I realized years ago that I’m definitely a quantity eater so I often use a smaller plate (i.e. salad vs large dinner plate) so I can indulge and feel like I’m taking more without actually taking more.  Yup, mind games with myself! Some people are OK taking a bite or two of something rich and feeling satisfied; I am not naturally that girl. I need built-in portion control. Recognize your style so you can plan accordingly.

Don’t over-drink (& avoid the sugary drinks)

First, I can’t hang like I used to so excessive drinking is never a good decision. I feel like crap the next day (and still have kiddos to take care of!), plus I’ve consumed so much extra sugar and calories, and I always, always eat more and not well when I’m tipsy.  Also recognize that some of those holiday cocktails are ladened with extra calories. Stick with vodka soda with limes (or a diet soda), champagne, wine, etc.

Be mindful of mindless eating

You’re talking, you’re eating, you don’t even realize what just happened. I think most moms recognize that happens when prepping dinner for the kids and it happens so easily during holiday season with platters and tables full of finger food. Just be mindful of it and you’ll likely save countless calories that you can better allocate toward food and drinks you really want!


Most importantly, remember… you want to feel good but never punish yourself for indulging, or over-indulging.  I hear family and friends all the time get so mad at themselves about how “badly” they ate and now they need to go on a diet. Look for balance and be easy on yourself. Focus on what you can do every day to feel good, inside and out. It’s that simple.

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  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 3:00 PM

    Ha, it’s so true!! Important that it’s worth it.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 10:00 AM

    Thanks for this! It’s nice to see attainable, reasonable tips rather than people who cut out food groups entirely. I’m trying to eat more intuitively and the holidays are hard. One question…I know you did WW, but do you still track you food? I’m really trying to get away from that and wonder how it has gone for you.

    • Reply
      December 5, 2018 at 3:00 PM

      Hi Pia… I did WW many years ago so I don’t track food anymore — though it took me YEARS to get out of that mindset though so I know exactly your struggle. I really try to focus more on balance throughout the day or weekend. If I know I’m going to a big event or holiday party, I focus on eating well, with protein and fiber rich foods to keep me more satisfied. I also find that when I exercise more it motivates me to want to eat better so it’s a helpful cycle.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Smith
    December 4, 2018 at 7:21 AM

    That first tip is a big one for me – I’m all about indulging on the things that are special & worth it (i.e, not the kids’ leftover Halloween candy)!

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