Choosing the right foods and eating habits will give our bodies the necessary nutrients to live longer, healthier lives. To help get into healthier eating habits, especially during the holiday season, Mackenzie Dougherty, RD, a dietitian at the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic shares her tips.

A consistent pattern of eating

Throughout the holiday season, continue the same meal pattern you would have at any point during the year to avoid getting overly hungry. Dougherty says to avoid skipping meals or saving up for a big party. Many people undereat prior to a big meal or party, but it may lead to overeating later.

Plan as much as possible 

As schedules become busier during the holiday season, consider planning go-to meals that make you feel good ahead of time. “When we make and use a meal plan, we know what we want to buy and when we’re going to use that food, and it helps us because we’re not trying to figure things out at the moment,” Dougherty explains. 

Mindful eating

One of the easiest ways to maintain healthy eating habits is to be mindful and eat thoughtfully. Dougherty recommends checking in with yourself and asking, “How hungry am I?” 

Another good habit to build is to give yourself time to eat. “Try to slow down and ask yourself, ‘Am I still enjoying this food?’ while you’re eating it, so you stay engaged in the eating process, whether that’s eating in the office, out with friends or at a party,” Dougherty says.

“Continue to incorporate all the food groups. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables even when those sweets are knocking at the door all the time,” adds Dougherty. 

Incorporate what you enjoy eating

There is no benefit in getting stuck in guilt about what you eat, especially around the holidays. Dougherty recommends identifying your favorite foods and ensuring you’re eating them. “It’s a lovely time to be eating. It’s fun, and we can share and enjoy food with others. Allow it to happen if that’s what is meaningful to you,” Dougherty says. 

One weekend binge of your favorite foods is not everything you’re eating. It’s just part of your eating. Feeling bummed about what we will eat or what we’ve eaten in the past takes away from the joy we can experience with food and sharing meals with others. 

More importantly, developing lasting habits will be more significant than fixating on a momentary misstep in the long run.

Exercise and sleep

Taking care of yourself in other ways can also impact how you eat. Continue to incorporate movement, sleep and other habits that support you and your health, says Dougherty. Knowing that sleep and exercise affect your eating habits, Dougherty suggests prioritizing these supportive lifestyle choices throughout the holiday season to help you live healthier and enjoy the celebrations.