Naughty and Nice Holiday Influences on Healthy Eating

Naughty and Nice Holiday Influences on Healthy Eating

With 2017 around the corner, many Americans are preparing their New Year resolutions lists and planning to get a jump-start on a healthy lifestyle when the clock strikes midnight on January 1. But before the new year starts, we still need to make it through the holidays, often celebrated with family, friends and less-than-healthy foods. Even though 63% of Americans say they’re already trying to eat healthier in general, 68% agree that the holidays are a time for indulgence. That means more sweets and second helpings of their favorite foods.


While many Americans are planning to indulge over the holidays, 43% of consumers say they’re planning to eat healthier during this holiday season than in previous years. But how are they planning to accomplish this? Meat tops the list of categories where men aim to eat better over the holidays, while women plan to look at the dessert category to make healthier decisions.


Though men and women are planning to cut back on specific categories over the holidays, will they still enjoy their indulgences at the holiday parties and nights out this season? Some Americans plan to spend more this year on alcoholic beverages (30%), at restaurants (29%), in bars/pubs/taverns (27%) and on ready to eat meals (25%). But even more Americans say they’ll hold back from temptation and are not planning to spend extra money eating and drinking out over the holiday season.


While approximately half of consumers do not plan to spend more eating out during the holidays, it does not necessarily mean they’ll be making healthier choices at home. When compared to the average week throughout the year, consumers index lower across food labels that are perceived as healthier options—i.e., fat free, low fat, saturated fat and sugar free—meaning that they spend less on these items during the holiday period compared to the average week.

So while many consumers want to eat healthier, they are not necessarily making choices to support that during the festive holiday season. However, that doesn’t mean they will continue on their indulgence streak in 2017, with 59% planning to get their habits back on track and eat healthier in the New Year. There is a huge opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to provide consumers with delicious healthy meal solutions and help them crack the code to healthy eating and drinking during the holiday season.


The insights in this article were derived from:

  • Nielsen Happy Healthy Home Survey, a two-week online survey conducted in English in April 2016 among 1,176 respondents.
  • Nielsen Omnibus English language survey of 25,403 adults aged 18+ from Sept. 7, 2016-Oct. 2, 2016.