It’s October 25th, which means that Christmas and other holidays will be coming up in the next two months. Some people may struggle to stay on track with their health during that time. In order to have healthy holidays, it’s important to think about a few things before the holiday season actually begins.
Start by deciding what your healthy holidays will look like. Come up with realistic health goals. Determine how much you want to allow yourself to indulge and try to stick to your plan. Don’t be critical of yourself, though. If you fall off track, acknowledge that you did so, and then kindly allow yourself to get back on track.
How to survive family dinners
If you’re hosting a dinner, tell guests what you would like them to bring. Make fewer side dishes to reduce the desire to overindulge and use smaller serving spoons to reduce how much of each dish you’re having. Keep the meal healthy by making mashed sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, and making your gravy and stuffing from scratch. Stick to one tasty dessert, instead of a dessert buffet.
As a guest, your best bet is portion control. Start with less food on your first plate, and grab seconds if you still feel hungry. Or, you can fill your plate with vegetables and turkey, then have the treats like mashed potatoes and gravy once you’re a bit more full. Cut wine with soda water and save it for toasting. Set a limit on the number of holiday drinks like eggnog.
Prevent blood sugar fluctuations by eating throughout the day, as opposed to “saving your calories” for dinner. Otherwise, for days after, you could continue to put on weight, and experience cravings, mood swings, and fatigue.
Healthy holidays include healthy shopping
On a long day of shopping, drink warm lemon water in the morning. Eat a filling meal, including a good protein source that will help you stay full longer. Bring a healthy snack along with you, such as raw almonds or pumpkin seeds. If cooking healthy meals during that time seems impossible, cook ahead for leftovers, or prep and freeze ingredients.
You can also reduce the amount of shopping you need to do by agreeing with family and friends to reduce the amount of gifts or having a Secret Santa. My family has already agreed to my request to skip the gifts altogether this year. Instead, we’ll be making the holidays all about spending time with the people we love.
For gift exchanges, request to avoid sugary gifts like cookies and chocolate and opt for tea instead. Alternatively, you can ask for a membership to an activity you enjoy, or tickets to an enjoyable experience.
Address your stress
With the holiday season, stress levels tend to increase. This is an issue because stress increases belly fat and inflammation. It also uses up the body’s nutrients at a faster rate than in a relaxed state. Additionally, it reduces immunity and slows down digestion.
To counter the effects of stress, it is extremely important to allow yourself some time to relax and to get adequate amounts of sleep. Consider a pamper session with relatives, and schedule celebrations to allow for proper sleep. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and consume alcohol in moderation. If you feel your stress levels go up, try these ways to destress in 30 seconds or less.
Very importantly, you’ll need to support your immune system as you consume more sugar and go through more stress. Try to include nutrient-dense foods in your diet such as eggs, green leafy vegetables, colourful vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and raw almonds. Eat immune supporting foods like turmeric, garlic, and fermented foods (such as sauerkraut).
What are you strategies to stay healthy during the holidays?