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Ashley PoynterNov 7, 20195 min read

5 health hacks to make it through holiday meals

Updated: Jun 24

The holidays are supposed to be a time of cheer, family, good fortune, and sharing meals together. With the latter, it can be very easy to wander into dangerous territory when it comes to altering your diet. With all the celebrations and holidays parties and family dinners, it can be tempting to trade the salad for snickerdoodles. Avoid the temptation (as much as possible). While it seems like weight gain comes with the holiday territory, it doesn’t have to. We’re not advocating for total deprivation...just a little moderation to keep you in balance through the hectic holiday season. You can still partake in yummy potlucks and holiday gatherings without sacrificing your health. Here’s how.

1. Keep it simple

While the holidays may do their best to throw a wrench in all things normal (your schedule, your diet, your budget), they don’t have to. Just because the holidays may offer a new and different smorgasbord of food options doesn’t mean you need to totally overhaul your diet in any direction. Do what you usually do and eat what you usually eat. You may find that you’d like to indulge in an extra special cookie or sweet treat here and there and that is OK. Don’t beat yourself up if you snag a slice of your coworker’s famous white Christmas peppermint layer cake...just don’t make it a daily occurrence. People often get caught up in the all or nothing, naught or nice syndrome during the holidays. If you indulge in a sweet snack, that doesn’t mean you need to throw your diet completely out of the window for the next month. Enjoy it and move on to your normal diet.

2. Pre-game before holiday parties

With food! Try not to arrive at a party starving. Instead, eat something healthy before you go to the party. Not only does this prevent overeating on unhealthy foods, but it also allows you to focus on the people at the party instead of snacks alone. Engage in conversations with people and make some new friends. You can still enjoy some of the food, but focus on healthier options and maybe one treat. If it’s a potluck and you’re tasked with bringing a dish, go healthy! Opt for a dish that is savory but also veggie-packed. This gives you at least one healthy option of foods to choose from when you arrive.

3. Get your steps in

Exercise is a great way to counteract some of the damage that may happen from overindulging during the holidays. Even if you’re not a marathoner or iron man, there are simple ways to add some physical activity to your day and help balance out energy in versus energy out. Quick tip 1: use the stairs instead of the elevator. Quick tip 2: use a standing desk or take frequent breaks to stand and stretch at your desk during the workday. Quick tip 3: Park a little further away from the store entrance when running errands and get some extra steps in. There are a bunch of little ways to add physical activity to your day, which can not only combat weight gain but improve mood as well.

4. Focus on gratitude

While delicious dishes and tasty treats often steal the holiday show, it can be good to refocus your energy on what the season is really all about: gratitude. If you’re at a party and feeling overwhelmed by all the temptation via calories, be grateful that you are loved enough to be invited to the party. If you’re at a family holiday dinner and the conversation is making you want to stress eat, be grateful that you are surrounded by loved ones.

5. Partner up

Accountability can be a tremendous help during the holidays. Ask a friend who is also trying to be health-conscious to partner up with you and keep each other accountable. Maybe you check in over the phone after holiday parties to get honest about what you ate. Maybe you make plans to work out together a few nights each week. Or maybe you just send each other texts of encouragement about staying healthy throughout the day. Another option is to partner up with your primary care physician to create a game plan that makes the holidays healthier — and more enjoyable. Working with your doctor to create a reasonable diet and workout plan can be a great way to keep the holidays from hitting your waistline, but it can also be a good way to maintain your health year-round.

Quick Tip: Interested in finding a primary care doctor to partner up with this holiday season but afraid of surprise medical bills? Sign up for the Trailblazer or Pathfinder plan and get free, unlimited visits with your primary care doctor. No bills, no out-of-pocket costs, no copays. Totally free. Click here to get started.