How Students Can Eat Healthy During the Holidays

There are many options for a balanced diet, even during the holiday season.

Katie Loga

When the holidays roll around, it’s easy to let the candy canes and gingerbread men get the best of us. While it’s fine to indulge in a sweet and festive treat every now and again, it’s even more important to be cognizant of what you are putting into your body, and to consider trying out some healthier alternatives. So before you try to get into the holiday spirit through food, be sure to keep a few things in mind.

For starters, food labels are there for a reason: to help you be more aware of what you’re choosing to consume. By taking a glance at the food label on a box of candy canes, you might happen to notice that the main ingredient is sugar. Certain candy canes, such as ones made by Sprangler that are seven and a half inches tall, contain a grand total of twenty-two grams of sugar per every candy cane. That’s only two grams of sugar away from the amount recommended for women to have each day, and fourteen grams away from the amount recommended for men to have each day. Frequently eating sugary treats like candy canes can lead to one consuming a much greater amount of sugar than the recommended amount, which, in the long run, could potentially lead to some serious health problems such as obesity and heart disease. The next time you think about grabbing a candy cane, perhaps take a step back and instead try a mix of strawberries and bananas so that you’re still consuming something red and white to get that sense of holiday cheer!

Cookies of many different types have always been extremely popular around the holidays and it certainly is hard to resist the temptation of a sugar cookie or the gingerbread man. Cookies, like everything, are good in moderation; according to Heathline, consuming cookies in moderation will not lead to as much weight gain or nutritional deficiency as consuming them without care would. University of Michigan Medicine also reports that when you consume cookies, you are consuming tons of empty calories -calories that come from foods with little to no nutritional value but lots of solid fats and added sugars. As much as you may want to take advantage of all of the holiday themed cookies you can enjoy this December, maybe take a different route and decide to try out some yogurt with granola, as this delicious option will satisfy your sweet tooth without all of the added fat and extra calories.

Still not completely sure what healthy alternatives there are to eat over the holidays? While strawberries, bananas, and yogurt with granola are a great start, it’s not realistic or healthy to have your diet consist of only those food options. Therefore, look into trying the Mediterranean Diet. Even though this diet doesn’t exactly scream the holidays like candy canes and cookies do, it’s still a much healthier alternative and will leave you feeling less full of regret when the holiday season comes to a close. The Mediterranean Diet consists of beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, seafood (such as salmon), and much more; the options of the Mediterranean Diet seem endless. Plus, if you put in a little extra work in preparing a meal inspired by the Mediterranean Diet, you could definitely find a way to make it match the holidays, and whether it be through eating white cashews, green broccoli, or red strawberries, there’s always a way to make food feel festive!