How to Turn Bad Health Habits into Good Ones during the 2021 Holiday Season
The merriment of the holiday season brings gatherings and copious amounts of high-calorie food and drink. With so much temptation, it’s easy to slide into bad health habits during the holiday season. The good news is that you can turn those bad habits into good ones and avoid the guilt of enjoying a small amount of indulgence.
Here you’ll learn some simple ways you can enjoy the holiday fun and fare and stay healthy at the same time as we cover:
- How to stay healthy during the holidays
- What are bad eating habits to avoid?
- What are healthy eating habits during the holiday?
- What healthy foods should I include with holiday menus?
How to stay healthy during the holidays
Believe it or not, it’s possible to stay healthy during the holiday season — it just takes a few mindful changes. Let’s dive into a few ways you can develop healthy holiday eating habits.
Did you know that your body is made up of 60% water? Having your body well hydrated helps deliver vital nutrients and maintain the fluid in your cells. If you plan on consuming Aunt Edna’s eggnog or a variety of libations, be sure to drink a glass of water between drinks to prevent a hangover and dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to consume at least 64 ounces of water daily as a minimum and more if you plan on drinking alcoholic beverages.
Swap out unhealthy foods for healthy ones.
Holiday foods tend to be heavy starch-based carbs such as mashed potatoes, casseroles, candied yams, stuffing and cream-based dips. It’s possible to still enjoy these delicious dishes by simply cutting your portion size and adding white turkey meat and more veggies such as green beans or brussels sprouts. If you plan on making a dip, simply substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream.
Support your immune system.
Our stomach works to not only digest foods but also keep bad bacteria from slipping through the tissues of our intestinal lining. When these gut junctions or tissues become loose, it allows undigested foods to fall under those junctions and can lead to leaky gut syndrome.
If leaky gut goes untreated, it can also prevent our bodies from absorbing the nutrients our bodies need. One additional impact of leaky gut is an imbalance of gut bacteria. When good gut bacteria are depleted, it impedes the production of vitamins in our bodies. The good news is that you can help maintain your gut health by incorporating supplements such as into your diet or eating foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics such as yogurt and fermented veggies like sauerkraut.
Everyone slips up from time to time, and this will be especially true during the holiday season, when cookies, pies and other high-calorie foods abound. If you do decide to enjoy a slice of pecan pie, keep it to one and remember that you can wipe the slate clean at your next meal.
Working in a manageable workout.
You don’t have to hit the gym for an hour to get in the exercise you need daily. If you are under a time crunch, simply work in a workout that is 20, 15 or even 10 minutes of exercise. In fact, splitting your time into two mini workouts a day makes working in your workout manageable. If you are having trouble getting to the gym, commit to taking a brisk walk or using a workout video at home.
What are bad eating habits to avoid
It’s easy to get carried away. One pint of ice cream and a bag of potato chips later, and you are bound to throw in the towel on following a healthy diet. This practice of zoning out in front of the TV and munching on unhealthy foods is referred to as “mindless eating” by nutrition experts.
In fact, several studies have pointed to a correlation between the size of the container or plate and overeating—the bigger the serving, the more we eat. Avoiding this bad habit means swapping bad foods for healthier options. So, if you do decide to enjoy that ice cream or potato chips, portion an amount into a small bowl instead of eating directly out of the carton or bag.
Another diet mishap to avoid is eating late at night and especially right before bed. Not only will digesting any foods potentially impact your sleep but it could pile on a few extra pounds you don’t need. One quick fix is to stop eating at least two hours before bedtime. To help you remember, brush your teeth following dinner. However, if you are still starving, a healthy eating option would be a minimal amount of veggies or a protein such as small cubes of cheese.
You may have already heard this, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast slows your metabolism and can lead to overeating at other meals while your body scrambles to get its needed calories to function.
When your body is deprived of the fuel it needs, your metabolism puts on the brakes thinking it needs to store nutrients and calories to survive. If breakfast is not your forte, you can make a protein smoothie or mix some fruit, granola and yogurt for a quick but filling meal on the run.
The holidays can be a stressful time despite the well-meaning spirit of the season. Stress triggers can occur easily and lead to emotional eating. If you’ve ever just opened your fridge door when you’re not hungry, you were more than likely looking for more than food. Believe it or not, food can be a coping mechanism whether you are happy, stressed or sad.
One way to curb an emotional appetite is to assess whether you are hungry. If you find that you are stressed, get some immediate exercise instead. Taking a walk or calling a friend or family member to vent can help you avoid the kitchen.
What are healthy eating habits during the holiday
As we mentioned earlier, eating healthy during the holidays means heaping your plate with green leafy veggies such as green beans and brussels sprouts and adding smaller portions of mashed and sweet potatoes is the best place to start. This is a good idea not just during the holidays but also throughout the year.
You will also want to incorporate vegetables and fruits such as spinach, broccoli, kale, strawberries and oranges, which all contain high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, into your daily diet. All can be easily made into a smoothie or eaten on-the-go as a quick snack or small meal.
Additionally, removing or reducing your consumption of soft drinks and other high-sugar beverages and replacing those drinks with water will go a long way to improving healthy eating habits.
What healthy foods should I include with holiday menus
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice those traditional dishes that have become a staple to your holiday menus. Simply switching up your menu will do the trick! Here are some healthy holiday eating suggestions you can add to your menu.
- Salads: Skip the iceberg lettuce and go with romaine or spinach. Toss in some feta cheese for creaminess, pile on the veggies and serve with a vinaigrette instead of a dairy-based dressing.
- Sugar snap peas: This simple veggie packs a lot of flavor and is simple to make. Simply sauté for five minutes and add sea salt and a dash of cumin or pepper.
- Turkey: This is one of the healthiest lean meats you can have on your table. Cut the fat by filling your plate with white meat instead of dark meat.
- Cranberry: Skip the high-sugar canned cranberry sauce and use natural sweeteners. Opt for fresh whole cranberries cooked with honey and orange zest.
With these simple healthy holiday eating tips, you can have your cake and eat it too! Happy Holidays!