Healthy Christmas Dinner Ideas: Have a Delicious and Nutritious Holiday
Christmas is the season for traditions, gift-giving, and good food—long-awaited by children and adults alike.
With so many sweets and treats available, it’s also the time of year where healthy habits begin to slide. Don’t wait until your New Year’s resolutions to make healthy eating choices.
As functional medicine doctors, nutrition is one of the many areas we address with our patients. This season, we’re giving you tips on how to have a healthy holiday season—though our definition of a healthy Christmas dinner might surprise you.
Healthy Christmas Dinner Ideas
1. Don’t Skip Meals
Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners have created a strange standard: not eating to “save up” for the big evening meal. This practice is unhealthy for our bodies, and it also promotes the mindset that we need to “make up” for the food we eat—the same mindset that contributes to eating disorders and a generally unhealthy relationship with food.
Skipping out on breakfast and lunch means our body doesn’t get the energy it needs to function throughout the day. Blood sugar levels begin to drop, and soon we begin to feel “hangry” – the frustration that comes with feeling hungry and uncomfortable.
Our bodies are extremely alert to shifts in nutrition and energy. When food intake drops—by even the slightest amount—the body responds. Next time we sit down to eat, we’re more likely to eat way past fullness. Our bodies are glad to be fed at last, but we’re left with an uncomfortable stomach ache or general heaviness.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
There’s nothing wrong with eating a lot of good food for Christmas dinner. However, it’s also important to honor your hunger and fullness cues. If you want to eat a huge dinner, go for it! But it’s also perfectly fine to eat a normal amount of food without stuffing yourself. Those Christmas dinner leftovers will be around for a while!
The Hunger Scale is a fantastic system for mindful eating. This resource incorporates several mindfulness techniques—from checking in with your hunger cues to paying attention to every bite. No more mindless eating that leaves you uncomfortably full!
3. Cook a Healthier Christmas Dinner
This Christmas, consider spending less on material gifts and more on the food you serve for a healthy Christmas dinner. While it’s important not to eat too much or too little, food quality also matters.
There are many options for a healthy Christmas dinner! Buy turkey and ham that’s grass-fed (and support a local farmer in the process), choose potatoes that are free from pesticides, and incorporate plenty of organic vegetables into your meal. Consider alternative ingredients for sauces and sweeteners such as olive oil, coconut sugar, almond milk, and stevia.
Additionally, try including higher amounts of fiber into your diet. Fiber is mostly found in complex, slow-digesting carbs that help keep you satisfied and regulate blood sugar levels.
4. Have a Holly Jolly, Guilt-Free Holiday
There are lots of sweets, treats, and indulgences served during the holidays. The most unhealthy food is often the one you feel guilty about eating—and a true healthy Christmas dinner is a meal you enjoyed without guilt.
Whether you eat a huge or well-proportioned serving, lots of treats or mostly vegetables—make peace with your choice and move on. Accept yourself and your food choices, knowing that no options are wrong. Resist the urge to restrict food intake or over-exercise the next day.
Every meal you eat is a learning experience. Instead of feeling guilty and “making up” for what you ate, use this learning experience for next time. Did you eat past fullness because you skipped breakfast? Next time, you probably won’t repeat your actions.
5. General Holiday Health Tips
Food isn’t the only factor contributing to having a healthy holiday season. In a season that’s sometimes more stressful than joyful, there are many other areas of health to consider.
Make sure you’re getting enough rest this season. With the constant parties, gatherings, and activities, it’s easy to stay up later and later every night. This year, prioritize getting enough sleep. A properly rested body means more energy, a stronger immune system, and getting more out of the season.
With cold weather and all the hustle and bustle, we often want to crash on the couch and stay there. Instead, make an effort to stay active. Bundle up for a walk or run, snag a gym membership, or try an at-home workout you enjoy.
Don’t forget about the germs circling around this time of year. Avoid touching your face, take off your shoes after an errand run, and wash your hands often to keep sickness at bay.
Finally, be mindful of your mental health. Sometimes the holidays are more stressful than “merry and bright.” Be sure to seek outside help from mental health professionals or adopt self-care practices at home to ensure you’re healthy from the inside out.
Have a Healthy, Happy Holiday
Here at Five Journeys, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your healthy Christmas dinner! We offer treatments and therapies for all the suggestions covered in this article. Contact one of our friendly practitioners for a free consultation.