how to eat healthy during the holidays

We are knee-deep in the season of total gluttony. You can hear the dips calling your name, the cider and wine and eggnog and cookies and PIE! The PIE! Everything this season is covered in cheese and cream, and it is one giant conspiracy to get us to buy bigger sweaters. The naps alone this holiday season, yeesh.

Clean Plate ClubBest Gifts for Healthy Eaters Who Love FoodSo, 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 five things you can do to keep from losing yourself in the buffet, plus additional resources for more detailed advice (and recipes, of course).

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!

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.

2. Eat a Carrot

Homemade Carrot Chips

Chowhound’s Carrot Chips

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.

3. Eat an Apple

How did apples get their names?


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!

4. Eat a Salad

Now vegetables feel like they’ll be harder, right? Wrong! Nearing-year’s-end produce is chock-full of winter greens, sweet potatoes, less-than-decorative gourds, even Brussels sprouts. 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.

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

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!

And check out these additional healthy eating articles for more inspiration, plus plenty of practical tips and tricks:

Healthy Holiday Recipes Starring Cauliflower

Tahini Roasted Cauliflower with Goji Berries


They’re fit for parties too! See how cauliflower will save your holiday party.

11 Vegetarian Blogs to Inspire Healthy Eating All Year Long

Pistachio-Crusted Baked Tofu with Red Chimichurri Sauce

Shelly Westerhausen

Honestly, these are great even if you only eat with your eyes. Check out some of the best vegetarian food blogs.

How to Make Healthy Mac and Cheese

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Coconut Milk and Nutritional Yeast


Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not (well, not totally). See how to make healthier macaroni and cheese.

How to Make the Best Veggie Chips

Homemade Sweet Potato Crisps with Smoked Paprika (Barbecue Sweet Potato Chips)


Healthy, delicious, easy, and economical; can’t beat that combo, or that crunch. See how to make your own vegetable chips.

Healthy Holiday Appetizers

healthy holiday appetizer: Shrimp with Romesco Sauce


Okay, so this was 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! See our healthy holiday party appetizers.

The History of Bulletproof Coffee

Who invented bulletproof coffee and what is it?


If you haven’t tried the infamous keto coffee drink that claims to clear your brain fog and kickstart your metabolism, now may be the perfect time. Read all about Bulletproof coffee.

Related Video: 7 Healthy Eating Tips for Holiday Parties

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.
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