Today’s guest post that’s full of healthy holiday tips — and a pumpkin hummus recipe! — comes from the fab duo of McKenzie Hall and Lisa Samuel, registered dietitians and nutritionists, who are co-founders of Nourish RDs. You can find more of their non-diet advice on their blog and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
We all seem to approach the holidays with equal measures of excitement and dread. I get to decorate the house! Throw a party! Get dressed up! Versus So much food! So many desserts! Not another party …
But, we encourage you to view the holidays with a “glass half full” mentality. By focusing on a few habits, the season is a great opportunity to nourish your body with good nutrition while sharing with those you love. What more could anyone ask?
Here are some ways you can nourish yourself this holiday season so you feel happy, rested and healthy by the time you welcome the New Year!
7 Tips to Have a Healthy Holiday
1. Don’t starve yourself. How many times have you anticipated a large meal, and “saved up” all day just to end up wolfing down your plate and feeling over-stuffed and uncomfortable? How many times have you been so busy during the day doing your holiday shopping that you’ve forgotten breakfast, skipped lunch and made up for it (and more) at dinner time? One of the most useful tips we can share with you is to nourish your body every three to five hours. It keeps your hunger cues in check, your metabolism going at a nice speedy pace, stabilizes your blood sugar, maintains your energy level and keeps your holiday cheer up.
2. Eat what you really want. When you arrive at a holiday dinner or party, eat what you really want first. If you try to “be good” and avoid your favorite food, you usually end up eating all the way around it … and then going back and eating it anyway (on top of everything else). So, eat what you really want. Take a small portion and really enjoy it. Take the time to relish every delicious bite.
3. Sip smartly. Holiday cocktails (even non-alcoholic ones) can be packed with excess sugar and calories. Think: eggnog, hot apple cider, rum punch. If you really love the occasional holiday beverage, try to choose the one drink or cocktail that really makes the event special and memorable, and then stick with sparkling water with lemon for the rest of the evening. If you choose red or white wine, that’s even better. Studies show moderate wine consumption (one glass a day for women, two for men) may reduce the risk of heart disease.
4. Take advantage of seasonal ingredients. Fall and winter provide us with an incredible bounty of vegetables and fruits for our holiday table. Take advantage and experiment with Brussels sprouts, delicata squash, kale, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cranberries … a variety of vegetables and fruits provides incredible nutrition (think antioxidants!) and makes you feel good (thanks primarily to fiber!). To get started, try our recipe for Pumpkin Hummus paired with Way Better Snacks Oh, My Sweet Punkin’ & Cranberry Corn Tortilla Chips.
5. Get moving. This is the time of year when it’s easy to make excuses (ie. “It’s dark so early.” “It’s cold outside.”) for not-so-healthy choices. For your own well-being, start a new holiday tradition. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights, skate a few laps around the ice rink, hit the slopes or go sledding. It doesn’t have to be a full day commitment. Even a few minutes here and there makes a difference! Dance party in the kitchen anyone? Count us in!
6. Focus on the people. Although food inevitably plays a big role during the holidays, it doesn’t have to be the focus of each event. Enjoy the people you are with, relax and have fun. Play a game with your nieces and nephews, show your vacation photos to your Grandma, or go for a nature walk with your cousins. Those are the moments you’ll treasure long after the holiday season has passed.
7. Be nice to yourself. If you overeat one day, don’t sweat it. Simply plan to make healthy, balanced choices the next day. Each moment is a new opportunity to do something kind for yourself.
What’s your favorite part of the healthy holiday season? —McKenzie Hall and Lisa Samuel