how to eat healthy during the holidays
All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission.

Wondering how to eat healthy this holiday season? We’ve got some tips to help you out.

We are knee-deep in the season of total gluttony. You can hear the apps calling your name, the cider and wine and eggnog and cookies and PIE! The PIE! Everything this season is covered in cheese and sugar and cream, and it is one giant conspiracy to get us to buy bigger sweaters. But here are tips for staying healthy this holiday season—while still enjoying all your favorite treats.

Clean Plate ClubBest Gifts for Healthy Food LoversSo, how do you combat the elastic-waist onslaught? First, if you are anything like us, you’re a little rusty on portion sizes and VERY foggy on what constitutes a serving of fruit or vegetables. Never fear! EatingWell has this handy visual guide you can keep in mind to keep that slowly expanding waistline in check. (Your spring vacation plans will thank you.)

As for targeted holiday advice, here are seven things you can do to keep from losing yourself in the buffet. Remember to do these every day (or as often as possible) and you’ll set yourself up for success.

Related Reading: The Best Healthy Meal Kits to Try in 2019

1. Stay Hydrated

La Croix alternatives sparkling water, selzter, and sparkling tea


Seriously. Drinking enough water will not only make you feel better in general (and look as glowy as any softly lit Christmas tree), it’ll help you feel fuller, so you won’t get hangry and have to eat a dozen cookies before you satisfy said hanger.

You should drink a good half gallon of water every day—not all at once, obviously, and yet still, it can seem so daunting, or at least so easy to forget to actually do. Make it less so by infusing your water, and drinking it out of a stylish bottle you’ll want to keep reaching for! But do not forget to clean that water bottle regularly.

Valourgo Collapsible Water Bottle, $11.59

This silicone bottle folds up for easy storage so you can take it eveywhere.
Buy Now

2. Eat the Cookies

Christmas cookies on plate

Chowhound’s Christmas Cookies

We’re not suggesting skipping any holiday favorites or abstaining from sweets. Instead, try a little of everything you crave AS LONG AS you consume the recommended servings of fruits AND vegetables each day. It sounds overwhelming, but with that little guide we mentioned above, it’s much easier than you think.

And depriving yourself entirely can actually backfire; look into intuitive eating for a non-diet option.

3. Eat a Carrot

Homemade Carrot Chips

Chowhound’s Carrot Chips

Take a tip from Santa’s reindeer and munch on a carrot or two before you move on to the other options.

The vitamins and minerals you get from vegetables will keep you feeling energized instead of sleepy, they’ll boost your immune system and protect you from getting the sicks this winter, and they’ll help your skin and hair look healthy and glowing for the family selfies. Plus they help prevent serious diseases like cancer and diabetes and fill you up so you don’t eat the WHOLE pie. In one sitting.

Almost every holiday buffet has a crudite platter, so help yourself, and just go easy on the dip so you don’t negate the veggies’ benefits.

4. Eat an Apple

How did apples get their names?


Another reindeer-approved food we recommend for people too!

Breaking it down, it’s pretty easy: The USDA suggests two servings of fruit per day. That’s it. So easy. Have a banana in the morning and slather an apple with a little almond butter in the afternoon and YOU ARE DONE! And likely not hungry enough to shovel up all the chips on that plate.

5. Eat a Salad

This seems like it might be tricky in the wintertime, right? Wrong! Nearing-year’s-end produce is chock-full of winter greens, sweet potatoes, less-than-decorative gourds, even Brussels sprouts (which are great shaved for a salad). And once again, it’s just an easy 2 1/2 to 3 cups per day depending on gender and age. How hard is that? It’s a salad with a sliced tomato on top at lunch (or, you know, something more seasonal) and some roasted cauliflower at dinner.

To simplify all of this information, the USDA stopped using servings and switched to cups, so 1 cup equals 1 serving. There are a few exceptions, like in the leafy greens category or dried fruit, but for the most part this rule holds. For more information, check out the USDA’s site!

6. Make Some Substitutions

Watercress-Walnut Dip recipe

Chowhound’s Watercress-Walnut Dip

If you’re headed to a holiday potluck, bring a dish that’s delicious and festive but also healthier than it might otherwise be. See our healthy holiday party appetizer recipes (originally written for Thanksgiving—arguably the event that kicks off the whole season of overeating—but there’s no reason you can’t re-purpose these healthy apps for Christmas too!) for some ideas.

Or check out some general guidelines for healthy ingredient swaps and substitutions that can see you through the holiday snacking season and beyond. You could also explore the world of keto Christmas cookies and healthier desserts.

7. De-Stress

holiday stresst relief gifts

The holidays—meant to be the happiest time of year—are often more like the most stressful, and we all know that stress can induce us to eat more food (and more carby, sugary, salty, fatty food at that). Combat the urge to eat your feelings into submission by taking some time for self care, and getting plenty of sleep. Check out our picks for the best holiday stress relief gifts, which are great for treating yourself too.

Head into that holiday party relaxed and happy, and you’re far less likely to gorge on sweets or overdo the alcohol.

Make these seven easy things happen, and you can pretty much eat all of the pie, or at least as much you want!

For more tips, tricks, hacks, and recipes, visit our Holiday Headquarters.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She’s probably hungry, but if not she could eat.
See more articles