Health Up Your Holidays


By Live Naturally

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Keep it steady (and nourishing) in the midst of this season’s deluge of diet triggers. 

If there’s any time of year that can throw you off course, it’s the holidays. Juggling social gatherings, sleep, and shopping on top of everyday responsibilities is hard enough, let alone maintaining a healthy diet. But to enjoy the holiday season without sacrificing your health goals, it’s all about striking the right balance.  

To find that sweet spot, focus on nutrition rather than deprivation. Each day, try asking yourself, “How can I best fuel my body for life today?” to shift the focus from overindulging and recovery to eating for better living.

7 healthy holiday hacks

To help attain the right balance, it’s important to understand <how> to eat wisely—whether you’re packing on-the-go snacks and lunches or planning festive family feasts. Here are seven quick tips to get you started.

1. Prioritize your personal needs

Look ahead to prepare for possible disruptions in your typical eating patterns. For example, by eating a nutritious breakfast, you can indulge a bit at dinner and still meet your nutritional goals.

2. Get your fiber

Fiber, found in all plant foods, can help keep you satiated while contributing to your health. Choose raw veggies for dipping instead of chips, fresh berries for dessert, or add salad greens and/or sprouts to any plate to easily up your fiber intake.

3. Plan ahead 

Organize your shopping list, and plan menus ahead of time to ensure nutritional balance.

4. Hydrate

It’s amazing what water can do for our health! Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining energy, electrolyte balance, supporting digestive health, alleviating congestion, maintaining healthy skin, and more. In addition, sometimes we think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty and having a drink of water can help lower the risk of overeating.

5. Think plant based

To amp up your nutrition, consider plant-based alternatives for those saturated fat and cholesterol-laden traditional foods such as butter, red and processed meats, baked goods, and fried foods. Consider a flexitarian diet, or your own take on a Meatless Monday, for a healthy and sustainable alternative to animal-based diets.

6. Prepare for potlucks

Bring your own healthy dish to a potluck (to share, of course) that fulfills your special dietary needs. Feel free to break tradition here. More often than not, these end up being crowd favorites! Also, don’t arrive to the party hungry. If you know there will not be healthy options available, consider eating your healthy meal at home, and snack at the event.

7. Remember: all things in moderation—including moderation! 

Allow yourself the occasional indulgence. If there is a binge moment, or two, or three, don’t panic. Balance it out by drinking more water, or taking a nice, long walk.

How do we find balance?

The yearly marathon of holiday feasts need not ruin your health progress in the long run. If you find you’re falling short on your health goals during the holidays, be gentle with yourself. Then keep recommitting to eat healthier and get back on track. One simple way to approach this is to think about crowding out the “bad” foods with as many healthful alternatives as possible (see sidebar for simple swaps). You got this!

Tricks of the trade 

With simple substitutions, you can support your overall health this holiday season while still enjoying your favorite dishes.

Troublesome ingredients 

Healthier alternatives 


· In dressings, use avocado.

· In baked goods, try mashed banana or applesauce, 1:1.

· When sauteing, replace 1 tablespoon oil with 3 tablespoons water.


· Replace refined white sugar with a coconut or date-based sweetener, 1:1.


· Replace dairy butter with a whole food plant-based alternative.

· Use avocado as a spread on toast.

· When sauteing, replace 1 tablespoon butter with 3 tablespoons water.


· Replace eggs with a cholesterol-free plant-based egg alternative or combine 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water to replace one egg.

Bleached, refined all-purpose flour

· Replace with a gluten-free all-purpose blend. Replace a flour and fat-based roux with a mixture made with arrowroot or cornstarch and water.

Fried foods

· Replace with baked or air-fried alternatives.


Can you plus one?

For every meal, think of one small thing you can do to bump up the nutrition. Add some fresh berries to a dessert cream, some toasted seeds to a salad, fresh greens with your feast.

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