The Truth about Healthy Holiday Eating

Written by: Damijana Presečnik, M. Sc. in Nutrition

New Year's Eve and other holidays that are approaching at this time often make us feel guilty. But not because of the wrong gifts we gave to our beloved ones, but mostly for the heavy food and alcohol indulgence, connected with pounds we are likely to gain in December.

On one hand media showers us with the un-healthy and weight-gaining treats, but on the other they are also trying to tell us how to avoid these extra pounds. This is why, while you can find many very healthy holiday recipes on the web these days, I decided to share something more original with you. I decided to tell you the truth about healthy holiday eating.

7 Facts I Learned about Holiday Eating Habits and Customs

People often come to me with questions about how to eat healthy, especially for holidays. And I always try to be honest with them. I tell them to go with the tradition and enjoy the time they spend with their family. So, let me tell you some facts that I learned through all these conversations.

1. If you don't care about your diet generally, why care about it during the holidays? That could only cause more stress. Unless you are planning to keep the healthy eating habits after the holiday season, too. Then all I can say is: "Go for it and use the full support of 24alife."

2. Most people gain a few pounds during the holidays. And usually lose them after the festive time, too. It would be better to avoid it, but if it happens to you, the only right approach to it is constructive and realistic goal-setting plan to get fit again.

3. During the holidays, don't avoid the usual meals or foods. Just reduce the size. I know how hard it is to trick your grandma that you've eaten enough and stop her nagging about the amount of food left on the table. Well, I have a simple solution that usually works. Instead of eating everything on the plate just ask her to give you the leftovers and save them for later.

4. You should know that holiday meals also have a symbolic meaning and this strong emotional note of being together, giving, and sharing causes positive feelings. I am not trying to suggest that you can take this as the excuse for overeating, but only that when you have a bad conscience it feels better to focus on the psycho-social value of the holiday meals and enjoy them multi-dimensionally.

5. "Healthy holiday meals" really sound unbelievable. Well they mostly are. So I don't recommend you to count calories during these days unless the calorie-counting already is your habit. And if you really want to spend holidays without gaining weight, proceed to the next two facts.

6. You still cannot stop worrying about the extra holiday pounds? It's actually no big science behind how to avoid them … just balance the richer holiday meals with lighter ones (during the day), go for a walk or a hike or an outdoor game with a ball to burn some of the consumed calories.

7. The main nutritional directions of having healthier and happier holidays are: reduce alcohol drinks, sweets, and greasy food intake. Just like being healthier and happier at any other time of the year.