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Holiday Season: How to stay healthy during the holidays

Updated: May 14

Staying healthy during the holiday season can be a challenge. With all the parties, get-togethers, and family gatherings during this time of the year, it can be a struggle to maintain a healthy routine. The worst part? The healthy habits you set up for yourself seem to disappear when the holiday celebrations start.

healthy holiday

While we all love the holidays, these tips will help you keep your New Year’s resolutions without sacrificing the fun!

Table of Contents:

1. Healthier Food Swaps for Holiday Must-Haves

Healthier Food Swaps for Holiday Must-Haves

Use Coconut Milk instead of Heavy Cream for your soups

No holiday table is complete without a bowl of creamy soup. And while these thick soups might be comforting and the norm this time of the year, they can also have tons of fat and calories. However, there is a healthier alternative that delivers all the same flavors & texture without the guilt—coconut milk. Coconut milk has 91% less saturated fat than heavy cream. It has significantly lower trans-fat and cholesterol too. Making it a great swap option, use a one-to-one ratio for recipes!

Replace Milk Chocolate chips with Cacao Nibs for your desserts

If you're looking for a healthier alternative to chocolate chips, look no further than the cacao nib. Cacao Nibs are tiny pieces of the cacao beans used to make chocolate that have a slightly bitter taste. Unlike regular chocolate though, they don't contain added sugar or dairy and they're rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidants. They make a great addition to any recipe you want to add a little chocolate too (one for one swap).

Avocado is the Creamy Alternative for Cheese

Do you make sandwiches with your holiday leftovers? Are you ready to spice up your sandwiches and add some much-needed flavor & texture? Try some avocado! Avocado will add a creamier texture to sandwiches and has a lot of great health benefits including fiber & unsaturated fats. Compare that to cheese, which is often full of saturated fat and sodium. So next time you're making a sandwich reach for a healthy avocado!

Make Mashed Potatoes with Cauliflower

This one you have probably heard of as cauliflower has been all the rage for several years now but don’t knock it until you try it! Potatoes are good, don't get me wrong, but they’re also caloric and full of carbohydrates. Replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower at a two-to-three ratio for the same amount of “mashed potato” texture in your dish. The result? It won’t spoil your holiday meal, you're getting some more nutrients into your meal and you’ll be able to find more room for your other holiday favorites (which is always my priority).

Greek Yogurt is the New Kid on the Block

Dips are supreme and an easy crowd-pleaser at any gathering. You can dip anything from veggies to chips and keep people munching and satisfied. However, most dip out there is packed with calories and unhealthy saturated fats or sugars. But thankfully, there’s a healthier alternative for you to swap in— Greek yogurt-based dips. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, crammed with calcium, and popping with probiotics. It also provides the same tangy taste & texture of sour cream so most people won’t even know the difference, yum!

Watch out for that Iceberg, Lettuce that is

Iceberg lettuce is a staple for many salads, but it doesn’t have much flavor and is actually limited nutritionally as it is mostly made of water. Many restaurants use iceberg lettuce because it is cheap and the salad will take on the flavor of the toppings and dressings but you can do better! Try out some of my favorite nutrient-packed greens: spinach, kale, or mustard greens to amp up the nutrient density of your salads and add more flavor and texture to your salads.

2. Healthy Habits to Consider during the Holidays

Healthy Habits to Consider during the Holidays

Eat food throughout the day

Although eating throughout the day may sound like common sense for some reason during the holidays people’s eating habits change. Many of us have gotten into the habit of “saving up” our calories for the family holiday dinner or party. This type of behavior triggers overeating at the meal and poor decisions when it comes to the types of foods we eat because we are just so hungry! Stopping this type of eating pattern can help keep our blood sugar stable and prevent unnecessary over-eating.

Eat your carbs & sugar earlier in the day

If you eat most of your carbohydrates and sugar earlier in the day, it will give your body time to digest the simple or complex carbs completely before you head off to bed. Eating carbohydrates like whole grains will provide you with the energy you need to get through all your holiday shopping and then you can enjoy your holiday parties and events. It’s essential to find a good balance during this fun time of year.

Drink in moderation

You don’t have to give up alcohol this holiday season. One of my best tricks, alternate between drinking a glass of water and your favorite alcoholic beverage. Alcoholic drinks are often high in calories, can slow your metabolism, are a diuretic (dehydrating) and leave you feeling hungover the next day. Alternating between alcohol & water will help you stay hydrated and can help you make better decisions about how much you drink and what food you consume. Enjoy responsibly!

Choose between alcohol and dessert

The holiday season can really stack up lasting 6-8 weeks for most people and with all the gatherings crammed into a short amount of time sometimes it is best to pick your battles. The battle between dessert and alcohol that is. If you want to have dessert, consider skipping the booze for that evening. Alternately, if you're planning to drink in excess, abstain from eating dessert! Both are typically high in sugar, so avoid the sugar overload throughout the next few weeks of parties and celebrations by choosing to either eat dessert or drink alcohol.

Use smaller plates

It may sound silly, but using a smaller plate (like a salad plate) for your meals can help you control your portions. You can trick your mind into thinking you are eating more food when your plate looks full. If you put the same amount of food on a salad plate and a dinner plate your brain believes there is more food on the salad plate because it fills up more of the plate compared to the dinner plate. So if you struggle with your portions & overeating, try to swap out your plate size, concentrate on taking small bites, eat slowly, and stop when you’re full (remember you don’t always have to clear your plate).

Walk after eating

After enjoying those delicious holiday meals, walk around the room and socialize or even better around the neighborhood. Walking helps with digestion and aids in stabilizing your blood sugar levels.

3. Remember to Enjoy the Festive Season

Remember to Enjoy the Festive Season

Managing a healthy lifestyle can be difficult and frustrating, especially during the holiday season. Staying on track is hard enough, but rest assured, it will all be worth it as you enter the new year as a healthier version of yourself.

With the New Year right around the corner, I am excited to announce I am opening my doors to 5 additional 1 on 1 coaching clients for my health and stress management practice come January 3rd. My prices will be increasing in the New Year so secure your spot before Wednesday, December 22nd to lock in this year’s prices.

To secure your spot send me an email at and say "I am ready to prioritize myself & my health" in the subject line!

I hope these tips will help you make the most out of the upcoming holiday season and enjoy the entire festive season - guilt-free!


Alexa Hanshaw

About the Author

Alexa Hanshaw

Co-Author: Irish Doton

Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.

Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!

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