Need some healthy eating tips to survive the stress of the holiday season?
We have you covered.
As we head into the new year — when crash diets and gym memberships become all the rage — the key to staying healthy is really just eating well and moving a bit.
No special diets needed. But sometimes, a little reminder on how to eat well doesn’t hurt. In this post, our 21 tips offer insight like how to use fennel to get rid of bloating after eating greens, which carbs are indeed the good carbs, and more.
Below are all the healthy eating tips you need to keep your diet on track through the holidays and the new year. Cheers to eating well!
Healthy Eating Tips Worth Trying Out Right Now
1. Get Real
Perhaps one of the simplest words of advice when it comes to healthy eating is to go for what’s real. That means anything that comes from nature and isn’t processed. Post-holidays, it’s easy to reach for pre-made shakes, cleanses, and the like, but your body will do much better if you eat whole foods and skip pre-packaged meals, snacks, drinks, and other convenience foods.
2. Aim for Good Carbs
While carbs often get a bad name, they’re necessary for the body to work well. Your body needs carbs for energy, so it’s essential to opt for ones that provide the most useful fuel for our bodies to use. Whole carbs are the ones that are best — think oats, beans, barley, quinoa, and potatoes. Refined carbs are the ones to stay clear of. That includes cakes, white bread, pastries, sugar-sweetened drinks, and anything made with white flour. They’ll make you crash faster than Santa’s sleigh without reindeer.
3. Enjoy a Hearty Breakfast
After not eating all night, when you awake, your body needs fuel in the form of food to get moving. A good breakfast “kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day,” states WebMD. If you skip your morning meal, you may throw off your body’s fasting rhythm. Studies also show eating breakfast can help your concentration as well as lower your diabetes and obesity risk. Aim for a meal with protein (like an egg white omelet) and fiber (fresh fruit is a great option) in the morning to get going.
4. Add More Fiber
This healthy eating tip is one that you’ve probably heard more than once from your doc. Including more fiber in your diet helps control blood sugar levels and also normalizes bowel movements. Find fiber in whole foods over supplements, when possible. Chia seeds, avocado, apples, beets, carrots, strawberries, and pears are all excellent high-fiber options. Women should aim for 24 grams daily; men should consume around 38 grams of fiber.
5. Cut Back on Salt
If you tend to eat a lot of processed foods, you probably are getting more sodium in your diet than you really need. Too much sodium can raise blood pressure, which is a big risk factor for stroke and heart disease. “More than 70 percent of the sodium we eat comes from packaged and restaurant foods,” states the American Heart Association website. If you also add salt to everything, try to scale back slowly. You’ll notice your taste buds adjust and you’ll also notice more flavors in your meals. You can opt for using spices like onion, garlic, and other herbs to season your food.
6. Drink Water
It’s quite easy to confuse hunger with thirst. Throughout the day (especially leading up to a food-centered event or party), sip on water often. Having a water bottle nearby will remind you to drink up. Add sliced fruit or veggies like strawberries or cucumber to enhance the flavor and encourage more drinking. Plus, it will add antioxidants to your water as well!
Related: Water Challenge
7. Don’t Go Hungry
This phrase can be applied to many different situations. Skip grocery shopping when you’re hungry (especially if you don’t have a list!) or never attend a party starving. Enjoy a healthy snack before you go — whether you’re attending an event or simply getting out of the house for a bit — so you’re less likely to overindulge once food is in front of you. Fresh veggies with hummus, carrots and guacamole, tuna on whole grain crackers, and the like are all smart snack choices before heading out.
8. Keep Favorite (Easy) Meals on Hand
If you have a favorite salad recipe or baked sheet meal that is easy to throw together, keep those recipes and ingredients on hand as much as possible. Canned beans, grains, onions, potatoes, frozen veggies, and seasonings are all items that will keep for a while and can make up a nutritious meal or holiday dish without too much thought. That way when you’re running late from work or need a quick meal to throw together, you won’t have to think twice about it!
9. Eat Oily Fish
Fish is a great source of protein and is easy to make during busy weeknights. Try to include at least two portions of fish in your diet weekly, especially an oily fish like salmon, trout, sardines, or mackerel. These fish have long-chain omega-3 fats, known to reduce inflammation. It can also potentially reduce your risk for cancer and heart disease.
10. Try Fennel for Indigestion
Trying to add more greens to your diet but concerned about the bloating that sometimes comes with it? No worries. Beat after-meal bloating with fennel. Chew on a couple of dried fennel seeds for relief after eating healthy veggies like broccoli or cauliflower. The compound known as anethole inside fennel seeds relaxes intestines to allow food to move through the digestive tract more easily.
11. Eat What You Enjoy
Banning or swearing off foods — especially during the holidays — can set you up for failure. Instead, opt to enjoy the foods you love in moderation or portioned out. If you can’t trust yourself not to grab a huge slice of pie, opt for a smaller snack plate that forces your portion to be smaller. Focus on savoring every bite and it will make eating your meal that much more enjoyable and reduce the temptation to overindulge.
12. Make a Plan for Each Week
Planning ahead when it comes to eating well is a healthy eating tip that anyone can follow, no matter how busy their schedule. Creating a list of recipes for the week can be as simple as pulling out your favorite cookbook or looking over your saved Pinterest recipes. Before the madness of the week starts, plan out your weekly menu when it’s quiet and calm. Doing so makes it easier to shop and save money because you're not buying items impulsively.
13. Snack Smart to Reduce Dementia Risk
While there is never a good time to ingest refined carbs with heavy glycemic loads, there’s one time of day that researchers advise absolutely steering clear of those food types. A study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia uncovered those who ate a daily highly-refined carb afternoon snack were more likely than their peers (who opted for a lower-carb snack) to develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease later in life. Researchers used data from the Three-City Study, a French population-based cohort of 9,294 people 65 years of age and older. So, skip consuming cookies, cereal bars, and sodas in the afternoon and instead opt for fruits, veggies, and protein snacks.
14. Bring Smart Snacks With You
Sometimes life’s little events run longer than you intend. Whether it’s a work meeting, a client session, a doctor’s appointment, or something else, when you’re rushing through your day to stay on track, food planning is the last thing you want to be doing. During the holiday season rush and beyond, consider packing snacks to keep in your car or bag for those running-late moments. Unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, and homemade energy balls are all great snacks to have on hand to give you your fill when you’re super hungry. It will also make it easier to skip that drive-through for the fries snack or other unhealthy option that’s closest to you when you realize you’re hungry.
15. Use Olive Oil in Meal Prep
Olive oil is a healthy fat that is worth experimenting with in the kitchen. Instead of cooking with vegetable oil or canola oil, consider using olive oil instead as it’s rich in healthy monounsaturated fat. Dip bread in it, use it as a dressing, toss roasted vegetables in it, and use it in healthier baked good options. Extra virgin olive oil is considered the healthiest as it goes through the least amount of processing, meaning it keeps more of its nutrients.
16. Reach for Anti-Inflammatory Foods
If you deal with chronic health issues like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or other issues, then an anti-inflammatory diet could serve you well. Colorful fruits and veggies, nut butters, and legumes are all part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Removing processed foods is also a key part of reducing inflammatory markers as well. Sweet potatoes, turnips, kiwi, celery, cherries, watermelon, and green beans are all ideal anti-inflammatory foods to try.
17. Buy Local
Fresh produce — and even frozen produce — can get costly, especially if you end up tossing it out because you don’t use it all before it goes bad. Think about buying your favorite fruits and veggies at your local farmer’s market when it’s in season. Doing so will save you money and you can often get a good deal if you buy in bulk. Any extras you can freeze!
18. Forget the Fancy Drinks
Plain old water is good for you. As tempting as it may be to get your sparkling caffeinated water daily or your afternoon latte, it’s not doing your waistline or gut any favors. Save money by skipping expensive drinks and you’ll also stay better hydrated if you’re focusing on consuming water!
19. Start Your Own Garden
If you skip fresh produce every time you go to the store because you end up tossing out half of what you buy, perhaps it’s time to think outside the box. Gardening is one way to grow only what you need (and share extras with friends or neighbors) and learn to better appreciate healthy foods. You can grow everything from herbs to edible flowers. Best of all, you only have to go as far as your backyard to snag some fresh food for cooking!
20. Go Meatless
Trying to lower your cholesterol or improve your heart health? Skip out on the meat. Plants are full of fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller longer. Plus, fiber can lower your cholesterol and helps keep the digestive tract moving well. You don’t need to give up meat entirely, but you also don’t need to eat it for every meal. Consider one or two days a week where you opt for plant-based meals instead to reap major health benefits.
21. Note How Food Impacts Your Sleep
What does healthy eating have to do with sleep? For one, your diet can profoundly impact your sleep quality. Certain foods also make it harder to sleep well. If you’re getting enough sleep, it makes it easier to think clearly and make smarter food choices when you’re awake. Diets high in sugar and processed carbs can make it harder to sleep, creating a vicious cycle of poor eating choices thanks to low-quality sleep and vice versa.
Use Easy-To-Remember Healthy Eating Tips
We hope you’ll find the above healthy eating tips useful in taking steps to better eating.
To keep healthy and sustainable eating habits, try what seems easiest at first. As you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to adopt additional habits that are healthy more easily. Use easy-to-remember tips first to get started on your journey.
Like any other lifestyle habit, it will take time to change your taste buds and food preferences if you’re not used to eating healthy. Give it time and be patient with yourself. And if you get frustrated, remember the long-term goal is good health and that it takes consistent work to get there.
Baby steps are what will get you to your daily goal of eating well. The holiday season can be tough to navigate in a healthy way, but if you try one or two of these tips, you may find they stick much easier than you might think.
Here’s to healthy eating for the holidays and beyond!
Step up with a wellness challenge this holiday season. Ask your team if they are up for working on cutting back on sugar with our free 4 Weeks to Cut the Sweets Sugar Challenge!