By Dana Ryan, Ph.D., M.A. – Director, Sports Performance and Education

While many of us consider it the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday season can be a time of great stress and anxiety for those trying to lose weight or trying to simply maintain their healthy lifestyle. Two of the biggest obstacles to healthy eating during the holidays are travel and holiday parties, as the changing of daily routines and frequent dining out can make it a challenge to stick to your goals. Here are some easy tips to help you stay healthy throughout the season without sacrificing your holiday cheer!

Planning ahead before you travel will make healthy decision-making much easier:

1. Pack raw nuts instead of buying roasted and flavored nuts. Nuts can be a healthy snack, but at most airports and roadside stores, you can only find flavored nuts. When nuts are roasted and coated with various flavorings, they lose a lot of their nutritional value and add excess sugar and salt to your day. Look to raw almonds or cashews for a great snack on the go.
2. Traveling with a protein bar is a great trick to avoid reaching for the empty calories of candy. Before you leave for your trip, make sure you pack several bars – especially for long layovers. The Herbalife24 ACHIEVE Protein bar is a great tasting option that provides 20 grams of high quality whey and milk protein to help you make it through a long travel day.
3. Rather than relying on dried fruit, throw a couple of apples or pears in your bag before you head to the airport. They travel well and ensure you will always have a healthy snack! While dried fruit can sometimes be a good choice, oftentimes the kind you find at airports are packed with added sugar.
4. If you crave sweets, pack a 70% cacao dark chocolate bar instead of grabbing a candy bar at the airport. Chocolate that is at least 70% cacao has known health benefits that you can’t get from candy! While you still want to watch your portions, a few squares of dark chocolate is a great way to curb the sugar cravings!

Once you’ve made it to your destination, the holiday party spread can seem overwhelming. By avoiding some foods and focusing on others, you can get through the holiday season without adding any inches to your waistline.

Here are some holiday staples to avoid:

Eggnog: Full of extra calories, sugar and fat!
Cheese dips with bread: Dips are an easy way to really pile on the extra calories. Not only are they full of calories and fat, more often than not they’re sitting on a table for you to continue to snack on while talking with friends! Instead of reaching for more, make a plate so you can better keep track of how much you are eating.
Sweet potatoes with marshmallows: Sweet potatoes by themselves are quite healthy. However, the holiday tradition of covering the top with large marshmallows adds a lot of sugar to the meal. If this is your favorite holiday treat that you can’t live without, try compromising by adding by a few small marshmallows for a little sweetness rather then completely covering the tray.

Don’t worry, there’s still plenty for you to enjoy during the holidays. Pile on these foods:

Green beans: Green beans often end up in holiday casseroles. Instead, try sautéing them with different spices like turmeric, which has great health benefits!
Lean meats: Choose high quality lean meats such as turkey or chicken to provide some good protein on your holiday table.
Cinnamon: Adding cinnamon to sugary foods can help to minimize the sugar spike you get immediately after eating. Sprinkle some in your hot chocolate or apple cider to help your body deal with the sugar you are consuming. This is not to say adding cinnamon makes an unhealthy food healthy, but it does provide some health benefits!

Lastly, remember to always bring your workout clothes while traveling and focus on adding physical activity into your routine whenever you can!

Have a happy, and healthy, holiday season!