Holiday travel can throw you for a loop. It can seem stressful as you run around to prepare for the season, then you have to get to where you are going (fighting traffic and crowds), and then you have time out of your typical routine. You’re in someone else’s space, either in a family member’s house or a hotel room. We know this can be a challenge when it comes to meeting your nutritional needs. These are our top 8 tips for staying healthy through the holidays! If you need more support during the holiday season, we have developed resources like Nourished to provide you with the nutrition information you need to feel confident with your food choices!
Be flexible this holiday season.
Holiday travel can seem to throw you off your schedule. Different eating times, different foods available, etc. Things will look different during this time. But plan for it. You know to some extent what to expect. Will food you like be available? If not, can you run to the store to stock up on a few options you know you will enjoy? How will you be getting to your destination? Will you need to plan for stops, or bring food along? Be prepared for what is to come, but also be flexible! Things may not turn out as you planned, but it’s ok. Be present with your family and friends and enjoy the season!
Pack snacks for your holiday travel.
This goes along with being prepared. Pack snacks so that you avoid getting caught in a hangry situation. Pack snacks in case your travel companion’s schedule doesn’t quite align with yours (you know those drivers who refuse to stop for anything?). Here are some of our favorite on-the-go snacks:
Don’t forget some veggies during your holiday travel!
Holiday travel usually means stopping at places that may not have a whole lot of veggie options. Some meals may not have a vegetable and that’s ok. But try to get them in different ways throughout the day – maybe this will be in snacks, a side of veggie soup, or having veggies and dip as an appetizer. Your body will thank you for the extra fiber!
Pick your holiday favorites.
When it comes time for the main dinner event (or really any holiday party where food is in abundance), first stop and survey the options. Pick what you love. What you rarely get to enjoy (think someone’s specialty side dish). Pick what you’re craving. The food is not going anywhere. Pick what you truly want to eat and start with that! Is there a food pusher among you? An aunt that’s upset because you didn’t grab some of her mac and cheese? Politely decline and ask for a doggie bag to enjoy it later!
Plan in dessert.
Chances are, at this holiday party, there are going to be some tasty desserts. Instead of telling yourself “no,” when it comes to these treats, try giving yourself permission to have dessert. The more you put dessert off limits, the more you are doing to start craving them. Maybe experiment with the opposite! Tell yourself it’s okay to have 1 or 2 of your favorite desserts.
Eat throughout the day.
Even though you have a big holiday party coming up that afternoon or evening, it’s still important that you have meals and snacks during the earlier part of the day. Plan in breakfast, lunch, and snacks! If you try to “save up” calories, you put yourself at risk of overeating at the party, and then feeling overly full afterwards. Plus, your body deserves to have proper nutrition throughout the whole day. Don’t forget to eat the next day! If you overate at one meal, that does not mean your body doesn’t deserve to eat the following day.
Self care during holiday travel.
Remember that one of the simplest ways to relax your mind is to breathe. Even if you only have time to focus on taking one deep breath, it will do wonders for your mindset. Try counting as you breathe in and again as you breathe out, or simply focus on how it feels to fill your lungs.
You can employ this breathing exercise while alone or even while at a holiday gathering. After all, everyone breathes, so no one will probably notice. By focusing on your breath, you distract your mind from those stressful thoughts, which helps bring you back to the present so you can enjoy the holiday cheer.
Think about what else will provide self care during the hustle and bustle of holiday travel. Is it a walk to clear your head? Reading a couple chapters of a book in a quiet corner of the house? A hot bath? A cup of tea? Think about what brings you joy and make time for it!
While holiday treats are delicious and should be enjoyed, attending events that are overflowing with yummy morsels can be stressful if you still feel the need to control food. Food is only one part of life, and your body can guide you with its hunger and satiety cues. Fuel your body throughout the day, foresee what your body will need. Eat throughout the day to fuel your body, knowing that you can eat as much as you want at the party. Depriving yourself to “save up” for that holiday party will only lead to compensation later on, which you probably know from experience doesn’t feel very good.
Looking for more healthy holiday inspiration? Check out these other blogs!
- 8 Diabetes Friendly Holiday Dishes for a Low Carb Thanksgiving
- 8 Nutrition Tips to Survive Holiday Parties
- Healthy Holiday Appetizers to Please a Crowd
- 8 Tips to Manage your Diabetes this Holiday Season
Blog contributions by Klara Knezevic RD, LD, CLT
An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.