Nourishing Your Health During the Festive Season

Written by Cyndi O'Meara

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

December 6, 2023

Nourishing Your Health During the Festive Season: Your Simple Guide to Smart Holiday Eating

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and, often, indulgence. While it’s perfectly normal to enjoy special treats, it’s essential to prioritize your health and maintain a balance. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you stay health-focused during the holidays without missing out on the festive fun.

1. Start with Smart Choices:

Begin your holiday gatherings by making wise food choices. Opt for a vibrant and diverse selection of whole, nutrient-dense foods that will nourish your body. Load your plate with an array of colourful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins such as turkey or fish, and whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep your body functioning at its best.

2. Mindful Eating:

Practice mindful eating to savour each bite and connect with your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Eating slowly allows you to appreciate the flavours and textures of your food, making the dining experience more satisfying. Engage your senses and take note of the aromas, tastes, and textures. By being present during meals, you’re less likely to overeat and more likely to enjoy every delicious moment.

3. Hydration is Key:

Maintain optimal hydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can sometimes be mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. Water not only helps control appetite but also supports digestion and helps flush out toxins from your system. Consider infusing your water with fresh herbs or fruit slices for a festive and flavourful touch.

4. Plan Ahead:

Before attending holiday events, plan your meals and snacks for the day. Eating a balanced meal or snack before heading out can help curb your appetite and reduce the temptation to overindulge. If you’re hosting, consider offering healthier alternatives to traditional holiday dishes. Experiment with creative and nutritious recipes that everyone can enjoy without sacrificing flavour.

5. Limit Ultra-Processed Foods:

Ultra-processed foods, often laden with unhealthy fats, sugars, and additives, can be tempting during the holidays. While it’s okay to enjoy a treat now and then, strive to limit your intake of these foods. Choose homemade or minimally processed alternatives whenever possible. Create your own festive treats using natural sweeteners, whole grains, and real ingredients for a healthier and more satisfying indulgence.

6. Stay Active:

Maintain your regular exercise routine or find ways to stay active during the holiday season. Physical activity not only supports your overall health but also helps balance out the extra calories consumed during festive meals. Take a family walk, play outdoor games, or try a new holiday workout routine. Encourage loved ones to join you in staying active, making it a fun and shared experience.

7. Listen to Your Body:

Pay attention to how your body responds to different foods. If you find yourself feeling sluggish or uncomfortable after a particular meal, take note and adjust your choices accordingly. Your body’s feedback is invaluable in maintaining a healthy balance. Consider keeping a food journal to track how certain foods make you feel, allowing you to make more informed choices in the future.

8. Choose Nutrient-Packed Snacks:

Snacking is inevitable during the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Opt for nutrient-packed snacks like nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt, or vegetable sticks with hummus. These options provide a satisfying crunch while supplying essential nutrients your body needs. Having these snacks readily available can help you make better choices when hunger strikes between meals.

9. Incorporate Superfoods:

Integrate superfoods into your holiday meals to boost nutrition. Consider adding ingredients like kale, spinach, berries, and nuts to salads, side dishes, or smoothies. These nutrient-dense foods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, offering a powerful health punch that can support your immune system and overall well-being.

10. Make Smart Alcohol Choices:

If you choose to drink alcohol during the holidays, make smart choices to minimize the impact on your health. Opt for lighter options like clean spirits mixed with soda water instead of sugary cocktails. Alternate alcoholic beverages with water to stay hydrated, and be mindful of your alcohol intake to avoid excessive calorie consumption. Most importantly, savour your drink slowly and be conscious of how alcohol affects your body.

Remember, the holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy the company of loved ones. By making thoughtful choices and prioritizing your health, you can savour the festivities guilt-free. Nourish your body with wholesome foods, embrace mindful eating, and stay active to make this holiday season a truly healthy and happy one.

P.s. Looking for some healthy Christmas recipes? Have a read of this article here which features plenty of our favourite dishes for the holidays. 

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