(Constance Roark / Dietitian Nutritionist)

The holiday season is in full force with less than two weeks until the start of the New Year. Though it is a time of year filled with joy and celebration, all of the extra festivities, preparations and deadlines may have you feeling less than merry right about now. When this happens, it can be tempting to let your healthy habits take a back burner. But before you do that, consider these simple strategies to help you keep your holiday cheer and start your New Year off right.

Get your z's

Sleep is essential to good health, but far too often it is the first thing to go when life gets hectic. Couple that with all of the rich food and sweet treats that are everywhere this time of year and a good night's rest can seem downright impossible. In a small but compelling study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep, researchers found that diets lower in fiber and high in saturated fat and sugar may interfere with important restorative sleep. Drinking alcohol and eating a large meal too close to bed time as well as drinking caffeine too late in the day can also impact the quality of your sleep. In addition to coffee and tea, don't overlook other potential sources of caffeine such as chocolate and sodas.


But by no means does this mean you have to abstain from the holiday goodies. Just be mindful of your choices and enjoy them in moderation.

Consistency is key

Maintaining a normal eating routine can be particularly challenging this time of year. We frequently end up grabbing whatever is in front of us, forget to drink enough water, or end up skipping meals altogether. This is a recipe for holiday disaster. When we do this not only are we missing key nutrients that help keep our bodies healthy, but fluctuating blood sugar levels and dehydration can make us cranky and tired. To help combat this, maintain a consistent eating pattern throughout the day and never allow yourself to become ravenous. It's a good idea to always keep a healthy snack and water with you wherever you go so if you should find yourself delayed in an airport or having to skip your normal meal because a meeting runs long you have something nutritious to hold you over. Which leads us to our next strategy.

Have a plan

Maintaining good nutrition throughout the holidays and beyond doesn't have to be hard but it does require a little planning. Keeping the fridge and pantry stocked with some basic essentials is key. Pre-washed and pre-cut fruits and vegetables, cooked frozen brown rice or quinoa, canned beans, instant oatmeal, nuts and seeds are all great choices that are fast and easy to prepare when time is short. And while you may have to pay a little extra for the convenience of some of these foods, in the long run you may save money if you end up eating out less. To avoid over-indulging at holiday parties, plan on eating a light meal or healthy snack before you go — you will be less likely to eat foods you don't really want and enjoy the ones you do.

While the holidays can present us with some extra challenges, in reality most of us face situations that have the potential to disrupt our healthy routines throughout the year, from summer vacations to special events, but with the right strategy it doesn't have to come at the expense of your health or your holiday cheer. Wishing you all good health and happiness now and throughout the New Year.

Constance Roark is a registered dietitian nutritionist and the president and founder of CMR Solutions. Visit cmrsolutionsllc.com.