Healthy Habits and the Holidays

Healthy habits and the holidays. They don’t seem to go together, do they? The holiday season is typically the time when diets and exercise routines start to unravel. The holidays present many temptations — and you don’t even want to avoid them all!

But maintaining healthy habits during the holidays is less difficult if you’re prepared. Identifying what will break your healthy habits, and knowing how to plan for those things can help you stay healthy for the holidays.


For many families, the holidays center on food.  Turkey, stuffing, gravy, vegetable casseroles with rich sauces and cheese, and pumpkin pie — that’s almost the definition of Thanksgiving! For many of us, Turkey Day starts a series of food-centered parties and special occasions that continue right through December.

Fortunately, the holidays are not an eating competition. Before dropping that first dollop on your plate, decide how much food you feel comfortable eating, and build a plate just full enough of tasty, nutritious food. If you’re set on trying everything on the table, get smaller portions. If you start to feel full, stop eating.

  • You don’t have to use too much will power on Thanksgiving Day. Turkey is a healthy lean meat, and it tastes great with steamed vegetables and salad. Have pie if you want. One day with a little indulgence is not the problem — it’s the sleigh ride to New Year’s that can cause regret.
  • Put a little extra emphasis on healthy eating when you’re not at a party. Make sure to enjoy fruit at breakfast and salad at lunch, so you can indulge in a decadent sweet or a rich sauce at the special occasions.
  • Here’s a tip that can really help: skip the ordinary and enjoy the special! That is, skip chips and soda so you can enjoy Christmas cookies or yummy latkes. You won’t feel deprived, and you will feel better.


  • When spirits are high, and holiday cheer fills the air, it can be hard to turn down a glass of eggnog. Not only can drinking excessive amounts of alcohol endanger your health, it can also endanger the lives of others. The number of DUIs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a third higher than the rest of the year.
  • Party planners estimate three drinks per person per hour, but you’re in charge. Have one alcoholic drink and then switch to sparkling water for a festive feeling and a great morning the next day.
  • Here’s a tip: invite a moderate-minded buddy along when you go clubbing this holiday season. It’s easier to stand firm on your decisions about alcohol if you’re not the only one who isn’t drinking hard.


  • Getting too little sleep can be more dangerous than people realize. Sleep deficiency can lead to health complications, and can result in accidents or injuries. A lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your health, too. Whether it’s anticipation of jingle bells or a late night of board games with your family, many people find that they lose sleep during the holiday season.
  • Make efforts to get enough sleep. If you know you’re going to have a late night or an early morning, make sure you go to bed early the night before.
  • And there’s nothing wrong with a not-too-long winter’s nap. Try this trick: have a cup of tea or coffee before you take your nap. The caffeine will wake you up after about 20 minutes, which is long enough to feel rested but not so long that it’ll be hard to sleep at night.


  • Stay active during the holidays and plan to exercise. Either wake up early to get a workout in before the festivities begin, or suggest that the whole family get some exercise. Play outdoor sports like soccer or touch football, or go for a family hike. Stroll around the neighborhood and admire the lights, if your family just isn’t the sporty kind.
  • Try this tip: play lively music. Kids are more likely to get up and move around when there’s a good beat going, and you may feel more like moving, too.

Keeping healthy habits during the holidays can be challenging, but with a little planning, effort, and self-control, you can have holiday fun and still feel great!