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How to Have a Healthy Holiday and Still Enjoy Yourself

By Maria Menounos | November 21, 2017 | Rally Health

Staying healthy over the holidays is all about balance: balancing healthy choices with indulgences, balancing big meals with more movement, and balancing family time with your own time! Over the years, I’ve learned that the holidays don’t need to be an all-or-nothing affair: You don’t need to gain 10 pounds, but you also don’t need to be so nervous about gaining weight that you miss all the fun. Here’s how I stay healthy, but have a little fun.

Don’t be Afraid to Enjoy the Food

I always tell people, the holidays are meant for us to enjoy and have fun. There are people who are hard core and who can have those really healthy Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and I applaud that ... but I’m like, “Hell, no! Bring on the butter, bring on the sugar. It’s time to party.” And for a day, that’s perfectly fine.

Stay in the Holiday Spirit

In the last month, I’ve gone apple picking with my best friend and pumpkin picking with my fiancé, and both were perfect excuses to get out and go for a long walk outside while still enjoying holiday-themed activities. Add movement to your day in the most fun ways possible, whether that’s a favorite sports game with your cousins at Thanksgiving or a Turkey Trot 10K or even just a long, romantic walk the first night that it snows.

Make Choices Around Indulgences

You’ve got to make choices in life, obviously. For me, at a party, I’m not much of a drinker, so I trade high-calorie drinks and cocktails for food. Skip the things you don’t really love, like the boring dinner rolls that everyone nibbles on before the actual meal. Don’t take seconds when you know dessert is coming. You’re either going to have that sugary cocktail or wine, or something amazing to eat. And I always eat clean the next day to balance out. You do need to cut back somewhere!


How to Eat Mindfully During the Holidays

  • Host the Party: Make meals more fun by inviting friends over for a potluck or cooking party, where everyone gets to enjoy the food — and the company. That way, you control the menu and can make your healthy favorites.
  • Don’t Party When Hungry: Avoid skipping meals because you’ll be at a holiday party later that day. You’ll be more likely to overdo it on the cheese plate or at the dessert table. Instead, have a small snack or meal every three to four hours. Avoid junky snacks or fast food and try to have a healthy mix of food groups every time you eat. Good snack ideas include whole grain crackers with peanut butter, veggies with hummus, or low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit.
  • Eat Only Until Full: It’s best to eat just until you're satisfied, not until you’re about to burst. It’s OK to leave a little food sometimes — just take less next time.


Get Your Family Involved

I love a pre-meal walk before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Get everyone in your family to join you, because likely, they’re thinking the same thing and are feeling nervous about eating too much. And after dinner, do another walk! I do a post-dinner basketball game after Thanksgiving and everyone loves it: They digest and work off a little of the food. Or we play Running Charades, which is a great game when it’s cold because you can play inside or outside. Running Charades gets SO intense in our house. It’s so fun! Really, just pick any fun activity that the family can do to get moving.

Look at the Calendar

Twenty holiday parties coming up, but you know your mom is cooking the absolute best Christmas dinner? Think about how many events you have, and make a rough plan for each. Sometimes, you’re going to see that you have too many of those parties on your calendar, so you’re going to choose sparkling water with lime and stick to the veggie tray some nights. You just can’t have it all. If you go to 20 holiday parties and go crazy, unfortunately, your body is going to change. Boring office party? Maybe skip the dry cookies and box wine and just sip sparkling water instead. Make good choices early — tell yourself that at the pre-holiday parties, you’re going to be really judicious, so you can really enjoy the actual holiday itself.


When you aren’t eating at a holiday meal, it is your chance to reset by choosing good, clean food. I was just on vacation, for example, and I was having a lot of fun, food- and drink-wise. I was having the most sugary, unhealthy things! So, now that I’m home, for the last couple days, I cleaned up my diet. I went back to water and salad and fresh fish and vegetables. So it’s always a balance in that way. For you, that could even mean meal-by-meal, like having a green smoothie for breakfast (I have some great recipes in my cookbook) and a big salad for lunch before a holiday dinner party where you know you’ll be having seconds of everything.

Don’t Sweat It

Remember, we are human beings, not human doings! Enjoy the day, don’t think about the workout you’ll need to do to burn off the turkey. You have to be OK with not being perfect. Some people get caught up thinking they’re supposed to be perfect eaters and have perfect bodies, but that’s not realistic. We’re human, and we want to have a little bit of fun. It’s got to be less about what you can or can’t do; and if you have a really indulgent holiday weekend, just do what I do and clean up after that. Don’t beat yourself up if you went a little off the rails on Thanksgiving weekend: Drink some water, have a salad, and get moving again on Monday!


Rally Health Ambassador Maria Menounos is host of SiriusXM’s “Conversations With Maria Menounos” and author of the best-selling “EveryGirl’s Guide” series.

Maria Menounos
Rally Health