5 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

| WRITTEN BY: Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

I’m delighted to have partnered with U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council on this blog post. All opinions are my own.

The holiday season is finally upon us, and with the hustle and bustle of seasonal cheer comes mouth-watering treats and irresistible smells that leave us craving everything in sight. While these seasonal delicacies are incredible, it’s always a good idea to offset the indulgent eating with some fresh, healthy produce—like blueberries.

These little morsels are my go-to snack, as they provide a hassle-free way to eat well year-round and are versatile enough to pair with both savory and sweet dishes. Plus, blueberries are a gold mine for health, as they are rich in vitamin C, low in sodium, and a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer.

So, what are some ways to stay healthy this holiday season? I’m sharing my top five tips below.

1. Choose your food wisely.

Before you grab your plate at the next holiday party, get an idea of what’s being offered and make a plan. You may choose to skip the foods you can get anytime (i.e. crackers and cheese) and choose small portions of foods that are a real treat. Or you may choose to load up on fresh vegetables and fruit, if available, to fill your plate and your stomach, and take the edge off your appetite.

2. Get others involved in the healthy holiday spirit.

Try hosting a family-friendly baking swap, where everyone brings a healthy holiday treat to share. Include the kids in baking, and they’ll be excited to try all of the other “treats.” Need some inspiration? Try out my Blueberry Ginger Jam-Filled Scones for a nutritious twist on a classic dessert. Plus the key on these scones is portion size, since they are smaller (3-inch) scones, you can enjoy one without overdoing it.

3. Keep nutritious food around all season long.

If you make healthy foods, like blueberries, easily accessible around the kitchen, you’re much more likely to eat those first. Plus, blueberries make for the perfect snack or recipe addition; they require no chopping, de-seeding or de-stemming, and are available fresh and frozen year-round! It’s also an easy (and delicious) way to increase the nutrition in your children’s lunch box or make for a simple breakfast cereal topping.

4. Take the focus off food.

While the holidays may seem to center around food, it doesn’t have to be that way. Think of all the things you can do with your family and friends besides eat. You can bond in other ways, such as create ornaments, go ice-skating, play games, or watch holiday movies. Yes, you can (and will) eat, but it just shouldn’t be all you do, holiday-wise.

5. Get enough pillow time.

With holiday shopping and socializing added to your already busy schedule, you may be tempted to skimp on shut-eye. Don’t fall prey to this: tired people are irritable, distracted, and spacey—and often hungrier as well. A review study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that on average sleep-deprived people consume an average of 385 calories more a day than those getting a full nights sleep – that’s the equivalent in calories to about four and a half slices of bread.

What do you find most challenging this time of year? Do you have any strategies that help you keep a healthy lifestyle during the holidays? Leave a comment and let me know!

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