The excitement of the holidays means food galore, including cookies, candies, and a plethora of desserts. But these foods can do more than cause weight gain. They can weigh you down, making you lethargic and fatigued, because foods high in fat and calories require more energy to digest.

But where’s the fun in the holidays if not to eat those decadent snacks and treats? While munching on a carrot stick is good for you, it can be a lackluster substitute when your coworkers, friends, and family are all indulging in the best of the foods the holidays have to offer. You don’t have to eat ho-hum foods to maintain your energy and health. Energy boosting foods help keep you balanced but don’t have to be boring. Try these for a natural, healthy energy boost to sail through the holidays without the heaviness.

Fruits

Apples, bananas, oranges, and a host of other fruits, contains natural sugars to provide a little pick-me-up when the day drags on and you need fuel. They satisfy quite handily that craving for something sweet. So ignore that Santa-shaped cookie, and go for a few grapes instead.

Nuts

Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are high in magnesium, which helps convert sugar to energy with the added bonus of being high in protein to stave off hunger, and fiber to even out blood sugar levels. Walnuts contain heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Mixed nuts are considered by many to be a holiday tradition, so get cracking.

Honey

A natural sweetener, honey is not only good in tea and coffee, it’s a great sugar substitute in recipes. There’s also the benefit of honey fueling muscles during exercise, and helping muscles recover post-workout. So experiment a little, with those traditional holiday dessert recipes and adding honey to your drinks. You just might be surprised.

Mint

In your tea, in your water, in your morning yogurt, much of the flavor comes from what you smell, and peppermint—a definite holiday staple—triggers the trigeminal nerve, which stimulates the area of the brain responsible for arousal to increase alertness.

Dark chocolate

You don’t have to turn up your nose at every kind of holiday candy. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, a natural stimulant that affects the human body similar to caffeine. So maybe that peppermint bark isn’t as off the table as you thought. There’s also something happiness-inducing about the satisfying melt of chocolate on your tongue.

Water

When in doubt, hydrate. Studies show when we’re dehydrated, our bodies wind down like a dying battery, so throw a sprig of mint or slice of lemon in your water and soon, you’ll be back on track for the rest of your day.

 

You don’t have to sit by watching everyone else indulge in their favorite holiday treats while you abstain, nor do you have to pause your healthy eating habits until after the New Year. Keep homemade trail mix handy and combine some of this list into one satisfying snack, or don’t let anything muddy the taste of your favorite dark chocolate. However you do it, you won’t be the one getting sleepy in the afternoon.