Make Healthy Holiday Eating a New Tradition

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays | Abbott Nutrition

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This holiday season, you can enjoy yourself and stay on track with your healthy eating goals.

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A group of friends enjoy a holiday meal together.

DEC. 04, 2023   3 MINUTE READ

It can be a challenge to keep your healthy holiday eating goals on track with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Among holiday gatherings, your grandma's special homemade cookies, and those fun, festive cocktails, the indulgences can start to add up.

While it's smart to choose your treats wisely, there’s no need to deprive yourself this holiday season. Here are some healthy eating tips and other advice to help you enjoy your holiday.

Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals and trying to save calories almost always results in eating too much and too fast. So, rather than enter the party starving, eat small meals throughout the day filled with protein, fat and fiber.

Pro tip: Leading up to a holiday party, treat it like any other typical day. Have a balanced breakfast and lunch, and perhaps a snack before the party too. That way, you won’t show up to the party starving and more likely to overeat.

Prioritize Your Favorite Holiday Foods

You're at a holiday party and so many delicious options are available. Rather than fill your plate with foods that you can typically get on a regular basis like pretzels or breadsticks, prioritize what you want most. Perhaps it’s your aunt’s famous casserole? Or your grandma’s holiday cookies? Or both! Add those to your plate first and then fill it with other nutritious foods to balance out your plate, such as veggies and protein.

Pro tip: Shift your focus to what you can eat rather than what you can’t eat and remember that one meal or snack does not make or break your health. By prioritizing certain foods over others, you can make it easier to keep portions in check and focus on healthy holiday eating.

Prioritize Protein

Whether you’re at a holiday party or running errands throughout the day, getting enough protein at each meal is important and may help keep your hunger at bay. Research shows that eating a meal rich in protein can help to suppress appetite while decreasing the hunger-stimulating hormone, ghrelin. That's good news when you want to avoid overeating at a holiday meal.

Pro tip: Spread out your protein intake throughout the day. While at a holiday party, reach for options like turkey — it's naturally rich in protein and offers various nutrients like B vitamins, phosphorus and zinc. Short on time in between holiday shopping? Grab a convenient protein shake or bar to help manage hunger. Shakes like Ensure® Max have 150 calories and 30 grams of protein, while ZonePerfect® bars contain 10-15 grams of protein and up to 18 vitamins and minerals* per serving.

Incorporate Mindful Movement Into Your Routine

Finding the time to work out during the holidays can be a challenge, but remember, every bit of movement helps, not only for your physical health but your mental health too. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day three to five times a week, such as a walk around the neighborhood with your friends, dancing to holiday music with your family, or enjoying a yoga class. And if you’re looking for something with more intensity, resistance training using weights, resistance bands or your own body weight can strengthen and tone your muscles and support your metabolism.

Pro tip: During this busy season, don’t forget to take time for yourself and remember that any type of movement counts. It’s best to start small and build up over time to create an exercise routine that works best for you.  

Stay Hydrated

If you're traveling for the holidays, you may find yourself grabbing quick bites on the road or eating fast food at the airport. Busy travel days can make it easy to forget to drink enough water, and air travel can exacerbate dehydration due to low humidity levels on planes. Being dehydrated can cause tiredness, crankiness, headache and dry skin – all things best to avoid during your holiday travels. To reduce your risk of becoming dehydrated, focus on adding fluids to each meal and snack. Try carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day so you always have a visual reminder to drink more often.

Pro tip: Drink one cup of water before each meal to help hydrate yourself. And if you are struggling to drink enough fluid while traveling and hopping from one family visit to the next, Pedialyte® can help you rehydrate.

Bottom line is you deserve to enjoy yourself this holiday season. Don't beat yourself up for indulging in your favorite holiday foods. Instead, set attainable goals for your health, like eating more mindfully or taking walks with your family more often. And then, think about the small changes you can make over time to set yourself up for success. Setting too big of a goal, or too many at once, can lead to burnout. It's better to build up slowly over time to be consistent. In no time, a dedicated routine will feel like a familiar habit, and you'll be on your way to maintaining your health and fitness goals all year long.

*Except for gluten-free Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk.

Article originally published November 5, 2018.

Healthy Foods to Eat Every Day: 365 Days of Nutrition

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A person holds out a bowl filled with vegetables and legumes.


Healthy Foods to Eat Every Day: 365 Days of Nutrition


Key Takeaways

• It's important to eat a well-rounded diet that consists of a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
• Small, incremental changes can make a big difference to your health over time.
• Turning your short-term goals into a long-term lifestyle takes time.

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10 Tips for Monitoring Blood Sugar During the Holidays

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If you have diabetes, monitoring blood sugar is always top of mind. During the holiday season, however, when cookies, cakes, and indulgent dishes beckon at every turn, it can be even more of a challenge to keep your blood sugar levels steady.

"It can be difficult to maintain a healthy meal plan when holiday get-togethers are often centered around foods we wouldn't normally consume," says Owen Kelly, a diabetes nutrition expert at Abbott. "The good news is that although you should be mindful of what you eat, especially carbohydrates, the right strategy can help you make better choices while still enjoying this time with family and friends."

With these ten planning strategies and food swaps, you'll be able to enjoy the festivities and stay on track with your nutrition.

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