Even people who stick to a nutritious diet throughout the year can find their resolve tested during the holidays. From Thanksgiving pies to New Year’s Eve champagne cocktails—and plenty of sweets in between—it’s easy to succumb to temptation. However, with some simple strategies, you can encourage your team members to maintain healthy holiday eating habits, so they can have their fruitcake and eat it, too.

I. How to help your employees eat healthy throughout the holidays

Helping your employees keep on track with their wellness goals during the holiday is thoughtful and simple, with techniques you can use to support your team in the office or working from home.

  • Educate them. Offer webinars or video conferences with registered dietitians who can teach your team members how to eat healthy during the holidays, and discuss food trends such as intuitive eating. You may also want to offer discounts for one-on-one coaching services with a nutritionist or dietitian for employees who want personalized guidance.
  • Create an online office cookbook. Ask your employees to upload their favorite healthy holiday recipe to your company’s internal file-sharing service. Everyone can be inspired to cook something new this season.
  • Put your employee wellness program to work. Determine what program services can be used during the holidays to help your employees stick to healthy habits, such as meal planning or a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm box full of fresh produce. With CSA subscriptions, employees get a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables directly from a farmer in the area; some boxes also include locally produced eggs, cheeses, and other products. Hold contests where employees aim to take 10,000 steps a day or eat five daily servings of veggies over the course of a week or month. Everyone who meets the goal gets a reward, such as a DoorDash for Work Employee Gift Card.
  • Provide plenty of healthy choices. If your team is in the office, restock the vending machine with healthy snacks instead of sugary or salty treats. You can even invest in a refrigerated machine that can hold nutritious items such as yogurt or smoothie drinks. And when you’re feeding your team, use Door Dash’s Group Orders. You can pick a restaurant known for its healthy, nutrient-rich menu items and set up a group shopping link that you send to your team. Your employees order whatever dish they’d like from the restaurant and it will be delivered to them.
  • Make sure they don’t skip meals. Help your team members balance their busy schedules by giving them tools to get a good nutritious meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner while working from home. In addition to a DashPass subscription or Employee Gift Cards, you can offer your employees Expensed Meals. This gives your team members a set budget they can use to order meals anytime, anyplace with DoorDash. They can make healthy choices without having to skip a meal or rely on fast food when they’re too busy to cook.
  • Set some New Year’s resolutions with your team. Ask your employees if any of them want to share their goals for healthy eating in the coming year. It could be anything from cutting out sodas to focusing on heart-friendly foods. Include DoorDash for Work meal solutions in your employee benefits packages to help your team members achieve their goals.

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II. The effects of overeating during the holidays

The holidays are a time of celebratory occasions where food is the focus. It’s not surprising that we tend to eat the most during this time of the year.

A Forbes article reported that Thanksgiving and Christmas were the most indulgent holidays, at an estimated 3,500 to 4,500 calories and 4,000-plus calories, respectively. It’s important to try eating healthy during the holidays because overdoing it can have short- and long-term effects.

For instance, in the hours after consuming a heavy meal, people may experience a range of unpleasant short-term effects. These can include heartburn or acid reflux, an upset stomach or nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath from a full stomach compressing the diaphragm, bloating, and gas. Overindulgence can also put extra stress on the heart by increasing production of a stress hormone that can elevate blood pressure. At the same time, the heart rate increases when the digestive system works overtime processing those extra servings of mashed potatoes and gravy and holiday candy.

Those surplus calories can also result in a small weight gain. Participants in one study weighed roughly 0.5% more after Christmas and an average of 0.2% to 0.3% more after Thanksgiving. The problem, researchers noted, is that people don’t tend to lose that extra weight—and those pounds can add up over time, increasing the risk of being overweight or obese. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity, in particular, can contribute to serious health issues such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Whether they’re working from home or in the office, sharing healthy holiday eating tips with your employees can encourage them to stick to their year-round wellness goals and still savor the wonderful foods they enjoy at this time of year.

III. How to eat healthy through the holidays

Your employees don’t have to be miserable and avoid all delicious foods during the holidays. It’s all about finding a balance between eating those favorites without going overboard. Here are some healthy holiday eating strategies worth passing along to your team members.

  • They don’t have to deprive themselves. The pressure to abstain from all indulgences can be overwhelming. Plus, it makes people more likely to crack under that pressure. Suggest that your team members pick a few of their favorite holiday foods they’ll want to enjoy this season, such as the pecan pie from their favorite bakery, and skip all the other temptations. Moderation is key.
  • Practice portion control. Another smart way for your employees to partake in holiday delights is to watch how much they’re eating. Sure, those rugelach cookies are delicious, but eating a half-dozen of them at once is probably excessive. For big meals such as Thanksgiving dinner, it’s good to practice portion control. About half the plate should be filled with different types of produce, such as roasted green beans or a veggie gratin, while the other half is split between protein and carbohydrate-rich foods such as grains and starchy vegetables.
  • Be a smart supermarket shopper. The grocery shelves are lined with tasty seasonal sweets and treats. But before putting them in the shopping cart, people should consider if it’s healthy to have those treats at home—after all, they can’t overeat them if they don’t buy them. If a treat is a must-have, people should portion it out into individual servings, so they don’t overindulge.
  • Propose that employees share their baking talents. Home-baked treats are one of the season’s true pleasures. Employees shouldn’t keep their creations around the house if they’re aiming for healthy eating around the holidays. For instance, if you have employees who typically make and decorate sugar cookies during the holidays, recommend that they keep a dozen for themselves, and give the rest to the hard-working crew at their local police, fire station, or essential workers.
  • Fill up on the nutritious stuff. Motivate your team members to build meals from healthy, fiber-rich produce, whole grains, and lean protein, or start with a garden salad or cup of vegetable soup. These foods are filling and satisfying and reinforce eating healthy during the holidays (Bonus: When people are full from dinner, they usually don’t have room for a huge helping of calorie-dense dessert.) With an Employee Gift Card, your team members can order healthy meals from their favorite restaurants.

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  • Don’t fast before a big meal. On Thanksgiving Day, the temptation to save their daily calorie intake for the big meal with turkey and all the fixings is big for many. But when people come to the dinner table hungry, they’re more likely to overstuff their plate (and they probably won’t feel great after a huge dinner).
  • Make healthy food swaps. Inspire your team members to sub out foods laden with sugar, calories, or fat. They can skip gravy and opt for tangy homemade cranberry sauce, or snack on a Greek yogurt dip with vegetable crudites, rather than a cheese- or sour cream-based dip with chips. Another holiday healthy eating tip for your employees: keep in mind how a food’s been prepared: sure, spinach is a healthy choice, but not as much when it’s swimming in a creamy sauce. Instead, try a spinach salad. For recipes, they can experiment with reduced-fat ingredients to lower saturated fat. Skim milk eggnog can still taste great.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Every glass of wine or pint of lager is extra calories. Your employees ideally should choose still or sparkling water whenever possible, especially if they’re planning to eat a couple of their holiday favorites at a celebratory meal. They can also liven up the flavor of water with some sliced cucumber, lime, or lemon.
  • Spice things up. This is the season of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. When employees flavor homemade desserts with these warming spices, they can reduce the amount of sugar.
  • Split dessert. People can still enjoy incredible flavor when they have just a few bites. Suggest that your employees share a serving of rich, decadent desserts with a loved one. Another dessert option: Stick to bite-sized portions, and they get a taste without overdoing it.
  • Make meals easy. It’s a hectic time of year, and dinner prep can be tough to fit in every day. It may be easy to toss a frozen pizza heavy on sodium and saturated fat into the oven, but it’s not the healthiest choice. Give your employees DashPass for Work so that they get a hot, nutritious meal delivered without any effort on their part. Plus, a DashPass subscription comes with $0 delivery and reduced service fees.
  • Pack healthy snacks. Whether it’s some last-minute gift shopping or taking the kids ice skating, people are on the go during the end of the year. To eat healthy around the holidays, tell your team members to keep nutritious options such as nuts, whole-grain crackers, or dried fruit on hand for when hunger strikes.

III. Other complementary health habits

Your employees can supplement their healthy holiday eating strategies with other activities that promote their overall wellness. Here are some recommendations. Help your team stay in top shape during this often-hectic season.

  • Do daily weigh-ins. One study noted that adults who hopped on the scale every day tended to avoid holiday weight gain.
  • Use an app. There are several you can suggest your team use to track calories or monitor their food intake. This can give them an accurate picture of how much they’re eating and adjust their daily meal plans accordingly.
  • Establish an exercise routine. According to one study, physical activity can help prevent fat gain, even if someone happens to eat too much for a meal or two.
  • Put the home office as far away from the kitchen as possible. The physical distance will help employees avoid constantly getting up for snacks in the pantry or fridge while they’re working from home.
  • Don’t nosh mindlessly. When it’s time to eat lunch, for instance, encourage your team members to step away from their home offices and eat on their patio or other outdoor space without tech devices to distract them. You can also treat your employees to lunch with DashPass for Work. People are more likely to savor their food and eat slowly—and therefore less likely to overeat—when they pay attention to their meals.
  • Take care of themselves. Do you know people who reach for the cookies when they’re overwhelmed with holiday stress? Urge them to find time for self care, such as daily meditation or an in-home massage. Your employees should also be mindful of their commitments and avoid overscheduling during this busy season. Remind them that it’s OK for them to turn down an invite to see neighborhood holiday light displays if they’d rather curl up on the couch with their loved ones.
  • Get a lot of rest. Aim for seven to nine hours a night. The CDC states that sleep deprivation can trigger cravings for foods high in sugar and fat.

Healthy holiday eating doesn’t have to be an impossible goal. With your encouragement—and DoorDash for Work—your team can partake in delicious food without any guilt. Contact us today to learn how we can help your company during the holidays and all year long.