Nine Tips for Happy, Healthy Holidays

Christmas and New Year’s are coming, and with them, holiday feasts shared with family, colleagues and friends, each of them promising plenty of excess. You can, however, enjoy the holidays without putting your liver through the wringer, and you can even stay in tiptop shape. Your body and mind just might thank you. Discover nine tips for delicious, guilt-free holiday get-togethers!

1. Get enough sleep

Did you know that getting enough good sleep stabilizes blood sugar and keeps the body from stocking up on more calories than it needs? Everybody’s body clock is different, but eight hours of sleep seems to be the right amount for most people. If you can’t manage to get enough shut-eye, an afternoon nap may be the right solution—after all, the holidays are meant for relaxing!  

2. Keep active

If you regularly hit the gym once a week, keep it up! Even if it’s a shorter or a slower workout, practicing your favourite physical activity will help you release your holiday stress and keep your body limber. And if family’s around, why not bring them with you?

3. Keep a positive attitude

It’s not always easy to keep up the “Christmas spirit” day in and day out over the holidays. All the excitement can stress you out, meaning the body generates cortisol, which can cause troubled digestion, irritability or negative thoughts. Take the time for yourself when you need a break. Go for a walk alone or practice a few breathing exercises to regain a little control.

4. Eat more good protein

Try to eat good proteins that also contain fibre and make lean proteins like turkey the priority. Legumes are an excellent source of protein and fibre in addition to being satiating and lowering sugar cravings. Use them in salads, meatballs or soups, and since vegetarian dishes are trending, why not try out tofu or tempeh?

5. Make more veggie dishes

Your guests will be pleased, not to mention your digestive system. Crunchy, raw veggies, Brussels sprouts, carrots and turnips in the oven: vegetable are your allies to help get your liver through the holiday period. Go ahead and serve up nutrient-rich, colourful, tasty veggie dishes to your guests!  

6. Take the time to digest after a meal

How about trading in that after-dinner coffee for an easy-on-the stomach herbal tea? Your digestive system will love peppermint, fennel and dandelion, whereas after chowing down, coffee tends to irritate the digestive system and acidify the body, which is not ideal when your body is already strained.

7. Moderate your alcohol intake

Ideally, wait until you’ve had a few bites before pouring a glass of alcohol in order to reduce its effect on your body. During the meal, alternate between a glass of alcohol and a glass of sparkling water so that you don’t tire out your system—and to better take in the evening!

8. Realize when you’re full

It’s not impolite to stop when you’re no longer hungry. Listen to your body. You can always doggy bag it and bring it home for the next day. And if you’re tempted to dig into a great big piece of chocolate cake, ask yourself beforehand if you’re still hungry—or if your eyes bigger than your stomach.

9. Revisit the classics

Be daring (and healthy), and swap the mashed potatoes for sweet potatoes, which contain more fibre and nutrients. Swap butter for pureed cashew nuts and the famous Christmas log for a fruit salad. Have fun reinventing the codes of Christmas and surprise your guests.

The holidays are always full of magical moments, and by keeping an eye on your health, maintaining a balanced lifestyle and avoiding excess, you’re sure to enjoy them to the fullest. Just follow these tips and use a little imagination to have yourself truly happy holidays!

Karine Mousseau

After studying naturopathy, Karine completed a Bachelor's degree in nutrition at the University of Ottawa. Check out more of her work at, or by booking a private consultation in Bromont or Longueuil.