7 Healthy Ways to Survive the Holidays As A Family

Making healthy choices for the family during the holidays is tough. From parties to special holiday meals, it’s nearly impossible to avoid encountering all the favorite guilty pleasure foods that threaten to derail our best intentions. What’s more, entertaining and enjoying the season’s festivities leave  little time for exercise. There is hope, however.

Here are a few of our favorite tips at Kurbo for successfully navigating the holidays especially with your kids:

  1. Do not skip meals: During the holidays people tend to have a “save room for the big meal” mentality. This is a BAD IDEA. If you don’t eat breakfast or lunch you will be so hungry by the time dinner comes along that you will overeat and make poorer food choices. Make sure you eat normal meals until the big one. Maybe even have a healthy snack before you go to the dinner party, so you aren’t tempted to overeat the red-light hors d’ oeuvres when you first arrive.

  2. Create an active tradition: This is a great way to make sure you get some good exercise on the holidays. Instead of watching football on TV, organize a family football game. You could also go on a family bike ride or hike in the morning, before your guests arrive. Whatever activity your family chooses, make it part of the holiday routine.

  3. Decide which foods to limit and which to offer more of: Instead of serving five different types of pie, limit the offering to one variety of pie. Also, you don’t need sweet potatoes AND mashed potatoes. Research shows that if there are more choices, we will eat more. However, offer more vegetable dishes, so you are encouraged to fill our plate with more green light foods. Try finding fun and creative salads and antipasto dishes, too, for those who prefer their veggies uncooked.

  4. If you are going to a potluck, bring a green or yellow light dish: This way you can ensure there is a healthy option for you and your family at the party. Here are three quick recipe suggestions:

      • Grilled Green Beans – toss green beans with a little olive oil, salt and pepper then put in oven at 450 for about 10 minutes.

      • Mashed potatoes – substitute chicken broth and nonfat milk to keep flavor but avoid the extra calories.

      • Fruit platter – Load up on fresh, organic fruits in a gorgeous display, and throw a few exotic or tropical varieties in for the special occasion.

  1. Don’t eat too late, and don’t linger at the dinner table:  If you eat around 4 or 5 pm you will have plenty of time to digest your meal before bed and you’ll wake up feeling much better in the morning. Also, once you have finished your meal (and the dinner conversation has wound down) leave the table and clean your plate. Lingering will only cause you to eat (and drink) more.

  2. Drink lots of water: This will also ensure that you don’t overeat. If you are hosting, get creative and add sliced limes and cranberries to sparkling water, and be sure to fill glasses in between courses and between glasses of wine or cocktails for the adults.

  3. Send leftovers home with guests: You can keep some of your favorites, but make sure that you don’t end up with a ton of red-light leftovers in your fridge at the end of the night.


Contributed by: Thea Runyan, MPH is the Lead Behavior Coach for the Pediatric Weight Control Clinic at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For almost 15 years, she has helped hundreds of kids, teens, and families manage weight and lead healthier lifestyles. Thea co-founded Kurbo Health, the first mobile, scalable weight management solution for kids, teens, and families. To learn more about Kurbo, please visit Kurbo.com.

About The Author

Hayden Walker
Executive Editor | Co-Publisher

Hayden Walker is the Editor in Chief and Director of Operations for Austin Food Magazine

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