Healthy Holidays: 15 Simple Steps to Make the Best of the Holiday Season

Holidays can be extra stressful. Here's 15 ways to keep things merry & bright.
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Think the holiday season isn’t good for your physical or mental health? We’ve all been there. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow our healthy holidays guide! We’ll break down how to stay active, keep on track with your goals and routines, and keep the stress at bay no matter how hectic the holiday season gets. 

When the nights get colder and the holidays approach, it’s easy to feel stressed. From November to the New Year—and all the gift-shopping, party planning, and cooking that goes into each festive occasion—it can sometimes feel like it’s impossible to actually sit back and enjoy the foods, spending time with friends, and the joy of lighting up the darkest season. We’ve put together a list of simple tips that will help you have a healthy holiday and make smart choices, inside and out.

5 Food Tips That Will Help You Feel Good This Holiday Season

If you’re looking for tricks on how to avoid Christmas cookies, you’ve come to the wrong place. There’s no reason not to eat as many as you want. The key is eating when you actually want to, not because you feel like you have to or because you have nothing else to do. These tips will show you how to enjoy all your holiday favorites and still feel good about your health at the end of the day.

#1 Eat Vegetables

Vegetables are brimming with nutrients that make us feel full, like fiber and complex carbohydrates. They also contain very few calories, so you can eat a lot of them. If you have a hard time staying away from fried or baked treats during this time of year, plan ahead by munching as many vegetables as you can to balance all the sweets and eat healthy.

#2 Avoid Constant Snacking

As the holiday season begins, think about how you normally eat: what times and what foods you give your body on the regular. Stick to this routine as much as possible to ensure your digestive system continues to function normally.

Our guts are filled with millions of microorganisms that are responsible for protecting our digestive system—this is known as the microbiome. It’s highly sensitive to any minor shifts in which food we eat, which is why you may struggle with gut problems during the holidays when there’s a bunch of different food to try. Sticking to an eating routine as much as possible will maintain the health of these gut bacteria and ensure you feel good the whole season.

#3 Choose Healthier Alternatives

It’s just not fair to try and compare your grandma’s Christmas cake to a Protein Cookie. Why choose just one? Here’s a better idea: Alternate between your favorite winter dishes and more fitness-friendly snacks. Or better yet: Make your own baked treats.

A basket of fresh caramel-filled doughnuts is sure to make anyone’s dreidel spin. A loaf of gingerbread-spiced apple and banana bread makes a mouthwatering addition to any holiday spread. And one look at our moist walnut cake with sunken pears will have everyone grabbing themselves a slice.

Würziges Apfel Bananenbrot mit Lebkuchengeschmack

Discover more recipe inspiration

#4 Eat Because You Want To

Know what we mean? Don’t feel obligated to eat just because the food is there. When food is plentiful and sweets are waiting around every corner, it’s not always easy to know if you really want to eat or if you’re just doing it automatically.

Before you reach for that next piece of chocolate or another helping of mashed potatoes, asking yourself the right questions will help you make healthy choices. Are you really craving chocolate right now? If the answer is yes, odds are you’ll feel twice as good after hitting that craving with what it needs. But if your answer is “I could go without it,” leave it for someone else that does really want it.

Our tip: Our protein snacks are super filling, and taste sweet enough to satisfy your candy and chocolate cravings.

Discover our Protein Snacks

#5 Communicate Your Needs Clearly

Does your festive meal always include a plate full of sweets for every guest? You could decide to enjoy it as part of the communal festive feeling.

If you’d really rather not, that’s totally okay. Talk about it in advance with your loved ones. Explain that they’re not caving in to a health trend; they’ll be helping everyone enjoy the celebration by making sure they have foods that every single guest enjoys eating. Clearly and confidently ask them to make sure there’s a food option for you; decide to nosh only on your absolute favorites; or bring a more nutritional sweet treat for yourself and others who also wouldn’t mind a nutritious treat. You’ll be making sure that no one’s disappointed and everyone knows where they stand.

5 Exercise Tips to Stay Fit During the Holidays

Even the least active people around can admit it: Getting a little extra exercise during the holidays improves well-being and reduces stress. That doesn’t mean a compulsory pre-lunch HIIT session (we’re not stopping you if everyone wants to, though!). Going for a light jog or walk or doing some restorative yoga can be enough to get your blood flowing and your digestive system ready for another day of eating. Use these tips to inspire yourself to sweat it out this season.

#1 Exercise in the Morning

It’s not uncommon to have a million and one activities with family or friends planned during this season. Doing your workouts first thing in the morning will give you time to get physically active before the events of the day take over. Better yet, try to do your sweat sesh while everyone else is asleep so there’s no risk you’ll be interrupted. Or convince a relative to join you in your AM exercise so you can motivate each other.

#2 HIIT in a Nutshell

If you already do HIIT on a regular basis, bring a modified version of that training through the holiday season. It’ll let you adapt your intensity after a night of one eggnog too many, or kick it up when you want to blast post-latke bloating. Compromise is key when it comes to working out at this time of the year, so don’t be afraid to do a bit less than you normally would.

Our tip: Though the urge to lie on the couch and eat chocolate is strong, you’ll almost always feel better after moving your body.

#3 Focus on Staying the Course, Not Making Huge Changes

Thanks to muscle memory, you don’t have to worry about losing your health goals in just one week. Think of the holidays as an extended rest period from all the hard work you’ve done this year. Try to do 3 to 4 short workouts a week (even just for 10 minutes) to ensure that you’re able to bounce back quickly when the season is over. Don’t jeopardize your mental health over the stress of staving off weight gain.

Our free workout database is full of quick workouts that can be done anywhere and anytime.

#4 Turn Your Workout into an Event

And do it with your whole family! Everyone of every age can enjoy a little exercise. Go for a walk or jog together. If jogging’s out of the question, schedule a bike ride or design a chair-based stretching session. Here at foodspring, our fitness is for everyone, no matter what their bodies look like. Making an event out of it means you can keep working towards your fitness goals and enjoy quality time at the same time. Who knows? Maybe exercising together will become your new holiday routine.

#5 Mixing Business with Pleasure: The Post-Meal Stroll

Going for a short walk after every meal is a great way to get your digestive system flowing. Go for a brisk stroll around town, a quick hike in a nearby park, or even just a walk around the house. Any movement is good movement.

5 Tips for Harmonious, Healthy Holidays

You’ve bought all the gifts, done all the chores, and hung all the stockings. Now it’s time to focus on relaxing. Though it’s not uncommon to butt heads with family members during this time of year, these steps can help things run smoothly. These five tips will guarantee you keep your cool no matter how hectic things get.

#1 Accept Differences

Different values and lives can lead to major holiday tension. Choose your battles wisely. Some things are absolutely worth discussing, but other fights may cause more harm than good. Accept that you don’t have to see eye-to-eye on minor issues to coexist. But do set your boundaries in advance. If someone hits a no-go after being warned, it’s okay to disengage.

#2 Act Rather than React

It’s easy to fall back into old patterns with people you haven’t seen for a while. Parents may treat you like a kid again, and you may want to act like one in response. The next time you’re itching to lash out, take a deep breath and do your best not to react. Think about what triggered it and if you’ll really benefit from engaging further.

#3 Practice Active Listening

During conversations, try to listen without interrupting. Be open to what the other person wants to tell you. Engage in a thoughtful way by asking questions. Then see if you can respond without centering your opinion. Keep the focus on how the other person feels.

Active listening is a well-established conversational model that promotes values like empathy and connection between participants.

#4 Focus on the Positive

At the end of the day, you get to choose where you put your attention. Turn your attention to the positive things as much as possible. This is absolutely easier said than done. Still, it’ll become less of a challenge the more often you do it.

#5 Get Space

There’s no rule dictating that you have to spend 24 hours a day with your relatives during the holidays. In fact, that’s exactly what not to do! Taking moments for yourself will allow you to recharge your emotional batteries and better enjoy the time that you do spend with your family.

Read a book, do a workout, or retreat into yourself. Focus on the festivities when you feel ready again.


  • You don’t have to choose between flavor and staying healthy during the holidays. Eat your favorite recipes in moderation, balance the decadent food with healthy treats, and know that there’s nothing wrong with adapting your goals, now or ever.
  • You don’t have to make progress in your health goals during the holidays. Consider this time of year to be an extended recovery period. Practice short, gentle exercises like walks and yoga, and involve your family members whenever possible.
  • Taking a relaxed approach to eating and exercise contributes greatly to good mental health. If you can relax as a family by giving each other space, enjoying your time together, and listening to each other with interest, you’ll be well on your way to having a healthy holiday season.

Sources for this article

We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.