3 Creative Ways to Get More Nutrition This Holiday Season

Eating healthy during the holidays can be both easy and fun, but it requires practice, diligence, and a little creativity.

Creativity is especially important if there are kids in the family: teaching them to make healthy choices from a young age can set the basis for them to lead a healthy, active lifestyle as they get older.

Here are a few tips, suggested by Common Threads, to incorporate into your family routine to support long-lasting healthy habits during the holidays and all year round.

1. Make a Game out of Your Daily Fruits & Veggies

The United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate recommends that half of a healthy plate of food should be made up of fruits and vegetables, or about 5-8 servings every day. There are many fun exercises to incorporate more of those colorful fruits and veggies into your diet:

2. Tweak Your Favorite Food

Try as we might to eat healthy during the holiday season, there always seems to be that one guilty pleasure food we can’t stop craving. Rather than feeling like we have to cut holiday favorites out of the dinner rotation entirely, we can make some simple tweaks to add more nutrition to those tasty treats.

Being able to control the ingredients used and the amount of each will make it much easier to enjoy nutritious dinners that the family will still love. For instance, with pizza, try using a whole wheat crust, cutting back slightly on the amount of cheese, or replacing high-fat meat toppings with healthier fresh veggies such as spinach, onions, fresh tomatoes, and peppers.

Here are some ideas on how to use healthier ingredients:

3. Make SMART Changes to Your Grocery List

Make Small, Measurable, Attainable, and Realistic Goals over a period of time. For example, switching from whole milk to low-fat or skim milk is one simple choice that can save hundreds of calories over time.

Not only will it be harder to eat healthier if you try to overhaul your diet all at once, but your family will certainly take notice when all their favorite foods or snack items are suddenly missing from the fridge and pantry. Instead, you can make homemade nut blends, trail-mix, or air-popped popcorn jazzed up with Parmesan to enjoy as healthier replacements for snack attack times.

Another common snack habit that can rack up a lot of hidden calories is drinking sugar-laden sodas and fruit drinks. Instead, to make hydration fun, add some kick to plain or sparkling water by adding slices of lemon, or chunks of cucumber or fruit.

Families that cook together bond over shared experiences, discover culinary interests, and create new traditions. Make holiday mealtime a family affair: the planning, the prep, the clean-up, and certainly the time together sharing the table. The pay-off is priceless, and it creates a warm, supportive environment to help make the healthy choice the easy one for you and your family. Here’s to “putting your best fork forward!”

Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND –Sr.Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan BowermanM.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan Bowerman earned a B.S. in biology with distinction from the University of Colorado, and received her M.S. in food science and nutrition from Colorado State University. She is a registered dietitian, holds two board certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a certified specialist in sports dietetics, and a certified specialist in obesity and weight management, and is a Fellow of the Academy.