4 Tips to Eat Healthy this Holiday Season (and Actually Enjoy It)

12/14/2017 02:58 pm ET

The holidays are one of the best parts of the year, but undoubtedly up the ante when it comes to eating healthfully. Holiday parties are notoriously filled with all the good things in life — twinkle lights, good friends and every delicious dessert you can imagine packed into three straight weeks of satisfaction.

But heading into holiday season shouldn’t leave you fearing for your waistline; rather, it’s all about a few tricks to eat healthy, indulge when its worth it, and enjoy every last bite.

TIP #1: Know Your Go-To Foods

Walking into a holiday party, it can be hard to see anything except the lavish desserts, boozy beverages and rich dishes. That is, unless you know what you're looking for. No matter where you find yourself eating this holiday season, just remember your go-to options: real foods you can say in a word or two. Things like fruit, veggies, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, nuts, olives, and cold-pressed oils all make the cut. They're all one-word ingredients that will leave you looking and feeling your best.

TIP #2: Find A Healthy Way to Make Your Faves

As the holidays approach, there is no shortage of drool-worthy dishes coming your way. Apple pies, mashed potatoes, stuffing and hot chocolate... it’s enough to make a person salivate just thinking about all of it. And there will always be the things that are worth indulging in. But for the rest, try to find a healthier way to enjoy your holiday favorites.

For example, you can substitute nutrient-void white flour with coconut flour or almond flour. Or swap in ripe bananas, dates, raw honey or unrefined maple syrup in place of white sugar. The substitutions have more nutrients and will hit your blood sugar more slowly than white sugar, so you don't fall into that post-dessert coma.

TIP #3: Never Come Hungry

If you've ever perused a grocery store while hungry, you know just how tempting of an experience it can be. It's like everything calls to you, even things you normally wouldn't want.

The same goes for any holiday event you arrive hungry at. Sugary desserts and processed baked goods that you might otherwise pass on are more likely to look straight-up tantalizing when you’re hungry. So when you can, have a little something before holiday parties. Fill up on a few bites of healthy fats and protein from beef, poultry, seafood, avocados, nuts or olive oil so that you feel satisfied heading into the event. You can (and should) still enjoy food at the party, but if you fill up on nourishing bites beforehand, you’ll be more likely to make healthy choices at the event. Then you can savor the treats you really do want because they sound delicious — not because you’re famished.

TIP #4: Plan to Indulge

This tip is so important to a healthy relationship with food: plan to indulge. If there's a night you're especially looking forward to, simply anticipate indulging a bit. And then just plan the rest of your day or week around it. Drink extra water, squeeze in a walk beforehand, and load up on leafy greens throughout the day. You'll not only get to have your cake and eat it too, but you'll feel so accomplished and buzzing with health, that you'll likely enjoy your treat (and the holiday season) even more.

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Jessica Biber is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and the owner of Taste of Health. She helps people break free of diets and make healthy eating an easy, lasting lifestyle. Learn more at tasteofhealth.com or find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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