Keep on Track This Holiday Season

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Nov. 23, 2021

The holiday season can be a happy time as people celebrate with family, friends and loved ones. It can also be filled with unhealthy foods, loaded plates and overindulgence. 

There’s no reason the holidays can’t be healthy, says BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina’s health coach Nicole Shannon. 

“You’ll feel better about yourself if you stick to your healthy behaviors,” she says. 

Here are some ways to make your holiday season just as nutritious as the rest of your year.

Stop the extremes 

During the holidays, people will overindulge in food and drink, leading to a post-holiday restrictive diet to get back on track. Shannon recommends a more balanced approach. Carry the habits you practice the rest of the year through the holiday season. 

Shannon recommends her clients take things gradually to make lifestyle changes that last. 

“Don't try to just rush into it and change everything you're doing all at once, because it's not going to be sustainable that way,” she says. “Take a look at your budget to make sure making these changes is something you can manage. Get a partner or use the tools we have here that are available to you.” 

Skip the salt 

Many people might feel more bloated or experience spikes in blood sugar because there’s more salt in holiday foods. Instead of loading up on salt, add other seasonings or spices to your dishes. 

Adjust holiday recipes to be healthier so you stick to your habits. You can find healthy recipe ideas on the American Diabetes Association’s Food Hub*.

Opt for fresh 

Instead of canned vegetables, check out a local farm stand for fresh foods. If you can’t buy fresh vegetables, be sure to check labels for added sodium or sugars. 

Small swaps 

Little swaps you make in your holiday meal can add up. 

“Healthy swaps add up and make a difference in the overall nutritional value of the meal,” she says. 

For example, instead of apple pie, cook apples with cinnamon and serve it with a small scoop of low-sugar ice cream. 

Fill your plate with vegetables instead of heavy carbs or unhealthy foods. 

Top of mind 

Keep your reason for maintaining healthy habits this holiday season top of mind, Shannon says. Talking with someone — like one of our health coaches — can help you stay on track even through the holidays. 

She recommends talking to your family or friends about the changes you want to make so they understand and become part of your support system. 

If you are on a special diet to keep your health in check, remember why you are making these changes. If your doctor has recommended a special diet, stick to it, no matter the time of year. 

“It is important to remember the real reason we celebrate this time of year with family and loved ones,” she says. “If you’re making these changes and trying to be healthy in a sustainable way, do something this holiday season to remind yourself why. You can make the holidays special without unhealthy foods.” 


*The American Diabetes Association is an independent organization that offers health information you may find helpful. 

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