Healthier holiday tips

Find ways to eat healthier and stress less during the holidays

The holidays are a time when we gather, laugh, eat — and sometimes eat some more. For many, holiday finances can also quickly snowball, which can cause stress. Between food, décor and presents for family and friends, our wallets may feel some frostbite. But, with a little planning and mindfulness, we can plan celebrations responsibly (and affordably) — and have plenty of fun too.

Holiday budgeting for food

Our favorite holiday meals don’t have to break the bank. In fact, there are lots of ways to save on seasonal foods so everyone can leave the table with a full belly and full wallet.

  • Plan a potluck: Hosting family and friends for a holiday meal can be overwhelming (and spendy). Consider planning a potluck and encourage guests to bring a dish to share.
  • Eat light: Have you ever looked around after your holiday dinner and thought, “We made way too much food?” To avoid food waste and save money, try making fewer dishes or serve smaller portions.
  • Shop for savings: Check your local grocery stores for deals and savings around the holidays. If you’re looking for shelf-stable ingredients, try buying those a month or 2 ahead of time to help spread out spending.

How can I manage my weight around the holidays?

The combination of stress and lots of good food can lead to gaining a little extra weight. If you’re hoping to keep those holiday pounds in check, try some of these healthy holiday eating tips:

  • Don’t show up hungry: If you know you’re heading somewhere with food waiting for you, eat a healthy snack before you leave. That way, you can avoid the fried or frosted temptations. Or at the very least, not overeat.
  • Make healthy swaps: You know, healthy food can taste pretty great too. Find ways to make better-for-you swaps in your recipes (like applesauce instead of oil or sugar, or Greek yogurt or coconut cream instead of heavy whipping cream).
  • Keep up your workout routine: Many cities host 5Ks and other fitness challenges to keep people moving between bites of gingerbread. Check your local community for a fitness event. And try to protect your personal time so you can squeeze in your regular trips to the gym or home workout routine.
  • Drink wisely: Eggnog calling your name? Go for it. But be mindful about sugary, high-calorie holiday drinks. They can quickly add up! Alternate alcohol and sweet mixers with better-for-you beverages like water, seltzer or fruit-infused water.
  • Give yourself some grace. A single day of indulging won’t cause weight gain. In fact, it takes days of overeating to pack on extra pounds. Let yourself enjoy and savor a few bites of your homemade, holiday-decorated, comfort food favorites guilt-free. After all, they only come once a year. And if you take a few bites too many, just move on and start again tomorrow.

What are tips to reduce stress during the holidays?

We could all use a little help managing holiday stress. After all, it’s a busy time of year with a lot of expectations to live up to. Did I get the right gifts? Does my stuffing taste OK? Will a “well-meaning” relative critique my tree? Not to worry, we’ve got some tips to help with your holiday stressors — whatever they may be.

  • Give yourself the gift of holiday self-care: It’s the time of year when self-care is needed most, but maybe the most difficult to commit to. Set personal care goals, get enough sleep, schedule a spa day or sit for an hour each day and do whatever is needed to de-stress.
  • Put it in perspective: Take a step back and recognize that the holidays are a time to be with people you love, no matter how decked out your halls, or how good your pumpkin pie is. They’re also a time to be thankful. Try keeping a gratitude journal and reflect on everything you’re grateful for.
  • Be in the moment: Focusing on the present moment can help calm your mind. Try turning off the TV, putting down your phone, stepping away from the oven and setting down the wrapping paper to be in the moment with friends and family. It’s the quality time that matters most this time of year, so let go of your to-do list and enjoy it.