Healthy Holiday Survival Guide

by Alex Caspero, MA, RD

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This holiday season, when your social schedule begins to expand, your waistline doesn’t have to. Use these 10 healthy holiday tips to keep your wellness goals in sight without depriving yourself of holiday happiness!

Healthy Holiday Survival Guide

It’s inevitable that you’ll be attending festive events over the next few months, with nearly all of them centered around calorically dense food and drinks. Add to that seasonal stress and hectic schedules, and it’s no wonder that the average person packs on a few extra pounds from Halloween to New Years. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be the case with these 10 tips to help you survive the frenzied holiday season!

10 healthy holiday hacks - The Wellnest by HUM Nutrition

1. Be picky and treat yourself!

The holidays are the time to enjoy the foods that you don’t typically have throughout the year. At parties, help yourself to a serving of your favorite festive treats. Forgo the ho-hum items that you can have all year long. Yes, the hummus and vegetable plate is healthy—but if you normally eat that for snack, save your calories for a bite or two of something truly worthy.

2. Trim the tree and trim your toppings

Just like that Christmas sweater, accessorize with care. To minimize added calories and fat, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream to food. These additions can add an average of 25 calories per bite. Limiting add-ons means you leave the table feeling satisfied, not stuffed.

3. Pack mints

When you’re hosting a healthy holiday party, resist the urge to eat when you’re cooking or already full. Carry mints or sugarless gum with you to pop while cooking, so you’ll be better able to enjoy your calories while you eat!

4. Don’t skip meals

Avoid the urge to skip meals before a celebration, and eat as your normally do. While skipping meals sounds good in theory, it almost always backfires, leaving you starving and eating everything in sight once you arrive to the event. Since protein is the most satiating nutrient, have a small, protein-filled snack before a party. (You can also see my recipe for protein-packed energy balls.) A small snack takes the edge off of your appetite and empowers you with a bit of restraint.

5. Work the room

If possible, position yourself away from the food table so you aren’t tempted to take bites between conversation points. Instead, take a plate and fill it with the food you really want to enjoy. Wait at least an hour before going back for more if you’re still hungry.

6. Ask for water

The holidays are associated with over imbibing. Remember that alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories, especially seasonal favorites like eggnog and mulled wine. Plus, having one too many will lower your inhibitions, making you more likely to eat more food than you need.

7. Follow the Skinny Bird plan

The holiday season can be hard enough to maintain your weight, let alone trying to shed pounds. Allow yourself a few treats and set your goal on weight maintenance so you can enjoy holiday foods guilt free. If you focus your mindset on maintaining weight with a plan for the new year to get back on a more ridged weight loss plan, you’ll be less likely to fall into a failure trap. To help curb appetite, try HUM’s Skinny Bird, enjoying one supplement before main meals up to three times a day. It’ll help prevent overeating at meals for maintaining weight and enjoying a healthy holiday season.

8. Practice mindful eating

Here’s a tip that can be applied year-round: Research shows that mealtime multitasking leads to overeating and consuming more calories than you need to feel satisfied. Instead, concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it. Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each item. Even at a busy dinner party, set your fork down between swallows to fully enjoy each bite.

9. Smaller is Better

In our study on habits and waist size, we found the number-one habit linked to a smaller waist was small portions! One helpful tip for portion control is to take smaller bites and sips, tricking your brain into eating almost 30 percent fewer calories. When you take smaller nibbles, chew your food longer, and eat more slowly, your brain thinks you’ve eaten more than you actually have.

10. Watch the mixed drinks

Whenever possible, skip the mixed drinks and punch bowl and opt for wine or champagne instead. A single shot of rum, vodka, or gin mixed with club soda clock in at around 100 calories per drink. However, that number can easily triple when you add in sugary mixes, juices, or regular soda. Champagne is the perfect party option. At around 80 to 100 calories per serving, it’s usually sipped instead of guzzled, limiting both your calories and hangover the next day.

For an extra delicious drink option, check out HUM’s healthy holiday, low-cal cocktail: a cran-orange vodka!

Healthy Holiday Cocktail Recipe

While a ruby-red cranberry vodka is the perfect festive holiday drink, a single beverage can pack almost 300 calories per serving. You can enjoy this vibrant holiday drink, made with homemade cranberry-orange juice, vodka, and a splash of calorie-free club soda. If serving for a party, garnish three fresh cranberries onto a toothpick and place in each glass for an extra festive and healthy touch.

Healthy holiday cocktail recipe - Cran-Orange Vodka - The Wellnest by HUM Nutrition

Cran-Orange Vodka Cocktail Recipe

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup 100% orange juice
  • Ice
  • 8 oz vodka
  • Club soda

Combine cranberries, water, sugar, and orange juice in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until cranberries have softened completely and liquid is bright red (approximately 10 minutes).

Remove from heat and strain mixture through a sieve into a glass or storage container. Discard solids. Cool completely before drinking. You can make it up to five days in advance.

Fill eight glasses with ice. In each glass, add one ounce of cranberry syrup and one ounce of vodka. Top with club soda and garnish with a few fresh cranberries.

Healthy Cran-Orange Vodka Cocktail - The Wellnest by HUM Nutrition

For an extra healthy holiday, try out this delicious, alcohol-free version: serve two ounces of cranberry syrup over ice and top with club soda.

Nutrition content per serving: 126 calories, 0 g fat, 14 g carbohydrates, 0.2g protein


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