If there’s one thing that really gets me this time of year, it’s the barrage of “healthy holiday eating” information that bombards my inbox, reader, newsletters, websites, and newspapers.

holiday cookies cartoon

I’m tired of hearing tips like:

“It’s ok to refuse food from the host.”

“Sit at the table for 15 minutes before you start to eat.”

“Eat a light breakfast and lunch so you can eat more at dinner without eating too many calories.”

“Use candy for holiday crafts, not eating.”

“Only take 3 bites of any one food.”

“Eat your food from a napkin instead of a plate.”

“Re-gift food presents so you don’t eat it yourself.”

While there’s an inkling of truth behind these words of wisdom, are these the kind of rules you want to be focusing on this holiday season? I sure don’t think so- some of them are downright ridiculous.

So what do you do? Attempting to avoid all treats and indulgences and saying no to food and drinks at parties is just not realistic, but it’s no secret that the holidays are a time of weight gain for many people. In fact, the problem with the weight people gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s isn’t so much the weight gain itself- it’s that people tend not to lose the weight. That weight gain, year after year, leads to problems.

healthy holiday eating tips

So instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t do this holiday season, why don’t you focus on what you can do?

Make exercise a priority. You may be busy, stressed, and not interested in going out in the cold and dark, but now more than ever is the time to get your butt moving. You don’t have to make a huge commitment- just do something to get the blood flowing as many days as you can. This can be a good time of year to exercise in the morning- It’ll set the stage for a healthy day.

Fill up on fruits and veggies. Put the focus on filling your plate with greens and other fruits and vegetables. Not only will they help fill you up so you’re less likely to stuff yourself with junk, they’ll provide you with the nutrients you need to stay healthy and energized. {Which is especially important if you’re eating more junk than usual.}

Eat healthy at home. While your schedule may be slam packed with social events and holiday parties, it’s not likely you’ll be booked for every single meal. Take advantage of the meals you’re eating at home and make them count. Put an emphasize on having a healthy and hearty breakfast, pack a lunch instead of eating out, and load up on veggies and fiber for dinner. Then when you’re at a party, it’s no big deal to indulge in the holiday treats you love and you don’t have to worry if it’s not the healthiest meal you could eat.

Don’t skip meals. Please, oh please, do not skip breakfast and lunch so you can have more room for dinner, or so that you can eat a big dinner and still not go overboard on calories- it’s a bad, bad plan. Skipping meals makes you more likely to overeat throughout the day, and your body is going to want to hold on to those calories since it’s not sure when the next one’s are coming. See above- chose healthy breakfast and lunch choices with adequate protein, fiber, fruits, and veggies.

Get some sleep. Boring, I know. But getting enough sleep helps your body properly process glucose, restores your energy for the next day, and helps keep you from getting sick.

nutritarian food pyramid

If you want some support to stay healthy through the holiday season, check out Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s holiday challenge. {He’s the author of Eat to Live & Super Immunity, and emphasizes a high-nutrient diet.}

holiday challenge dr joel fuhrman

Dr. Fuhrman is challenging you to:

  • Eat a large salad every day
  • Eat a generous serving of greens with mushrooms and onions
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with 3 fruits a day
  • Have at least one serving of beans per day
  • Avoid white flour
  • Avoid refined sugars/artificial sweeteners
  • Use oils sparingly

I’ll tell you straight up I dislike anything that says “avoid”, especially since avoiding a piece of grandma’s pumpkin pie all season long is just going to drive you crazy, but the emphasis on greens, veggies, fruit, and fiber is what’s important. If you take the challenge, you get a free six week membership to the Fuhrman website, which has online tools for support and information- might be helpful this time of year.


What are you doing this season to stay healthy?