Choosing healthy snacks can be a challenge any time of the year, but it’s particularly difficult during the holiday season when temptations and treats abound.
Even during the holidays, maintaining a balanced diet and avoiding weight gain remain especially important for your health. But it can be difficult to resist temptation when special holiday treats and sweets are offered to you at every turn. That’s why it’s important to be smart about snacking, especially when others around you are sharing holiday treats.
Here are six tips for staying on top of your holiday snacking so you can enjoy the festivities of the season, while still eating well for your health.
- Be mindful. During the holidays, it may seem like snacks and treats are everywhere—at the office, at social gatherings, even at the gym! Be mindful of how many snacks you are consuming, and don’t feel obligated to sample something everywhere you go. Try to keep snacks in your own home to a minimum—if they aren’t available you will not be tempted to reach for them.
- Know your body. It’s important to be aware that your metabolism slows with age, so your calorie requirements may be different than they used to be. Know how many calories you should eat in a day and do your best to stay within those limits.
- Drink water. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will keep you full and prevent you from overeating. At parties, make every other drink a glass of water so you can avoid consuming too many calories from alcohol or sugar-sweetened drinks. Fruits and vegetables also have high water content, so make sure to include those in your snacks.
- Make a plan. When you arrive at events, scan all the food options and form a plan. Start with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Pair carbohydrates with proteins. Not only are these healthy options, but they will help you feel fuller longer so you don’t overeat. Opt for a plate of cheese with whole-grain crackers and fruit, vegetables dipped in hummus, or a handful of mixed nuts. And don’t forget your beverage plan. Certain drinks—such as wine, beer, soda, and fruit juice—can add significant calories. Instead, choose drinks such as sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea. It’s ok to enjoy a sweet or savory treat, but save it for last and you’ll be less likely to eat too much.
- Don’t skip exercise. It can be easy to lose motivation to exercise as the days get shorter and the weather is less inviting. But keeping up with your exercise routine will help you feel good and control your weight, even if you do have an overindulgent day.
- Focus on the social event instead of the menu. Socialize and have fun during holiday events. If you focus your attention on spending time with friends and loved ones, you’ll keep your mind off the buffet table!
Remember, it’s ok to indulge in holiday treats once in a while. After all, the holidays are about sharing foods with others. As long as you keep everything in moderation and focus on the fun, you’ll have a sound snack plan to take you through the season and into the New Year.
Cutting Calories: Rethink Your Drink, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Eating Well as You Get Older, National Institute on Aging
Healthy Lifestyle, National Institute on Aging
Nutrition and Healthy Eating, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Plans for Healthy Eating, National Institute on Aging
Snacks for Adults, National Institute of Health: Medline Plus