Food Hacks for the Holidays

Enjoy the holiday cheer while maintaining healthy eating habits.

The holiday season can be joyful yet chaotic, which makes it easy to lose sight of our healthy habits. Maintaining positive routines and nutritional practices can seem like an uphill battle between a whirlwind of activities, elevated stress levels and readily available holiday treats, but we are here to help. 

Here are a few health hacks for keeping up your nutritious food intake while still enjoying your holiday favorites:

1. Use meal prep shortcuts

If you feel like you barely have time to prepare healthy meals, lean into simpler options. For example, frozen vegetables can be a great way to easily add a nutritious side to your meal. Grab frozen broccoli, peas, kale or green beans from your freezer for a quick thaw vegetable option.

It's also soup season, so whip out that crock pot and make a nutritious stew that will provide leftovers for a few days without extensive meal planning.

2. Redirect snacking

A few factors drive our urge to snack, two of which are in oversupply over the holidays: stress and convenient options.1 The traditional holiday season (November to January) is a high-stress period for most U.S. adults, with 41% citing increased stress levels around this time of year.2 Help manage the holiday stress (and associated snacking) by scheduling you time, setting boundaries, prioritizing sleep and more

Another option? Stockpile healthy snacks within easier reach than that plate of festive shortbread cookies in the staff room. You might not even like shortbread, but your willpower may waiver when you're hungry after lunch and it's just sitting there. According to the IFIC's 2022 Food and Health Survey, the most popular time to snack is in the afternoon, and 21% of respondents snack because it is readily available or convenient.3

3. Serve yourself a strategic plate

Whether it's a holiday party buffet or a big family meal, there's usually a surplus of rich food options. Fill your plate with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables before moving on to other side dishes.

And remember to take your time savoring each bite. Eating slowly can benefit you and your stomach as you reduce the amount of air for less bloating and give your body time to feel full so you don't reach the point of overfull discomfort.  

4. Enjoy your favorite treats

That's right, you don't have to avoid all the holiday goodies. Just keep proportions in mind and try to eat some healthy foods before indulging. This can also help you prioritize the treats you've been looking forward to over those that are simply available (*cough* sugar cookies *cough*).

For a truly guilt-free treat, consider modifying your favorite home recipes with ingredient swaps. Food substitution guides can be found online, or refer to sources like the American Heart Association for ideas.

Apply these hacks, and you'll be well on your way to a healthier holiday season. Wishing you and your loved ones the most joyous and nutritious year yet!

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  1. Cleveland Clinic. How Stress Can Make You Eat More - Or Not At All. Accessed December 4, 2023.
  2. American Psychological Association. Even a joyous holiday season can cause stress for most Americans. Accessed December 4, 2023. 
  3. Food Insight. 2022 Food and Health Survey Spotlight: Snacking. Accessed December 4, 2023.