The holidays are about connecting with the people we care about and celebrating life and love. They can also be a challenging time both emotionally and physically. By the time the holidays finally roll around we are depleted from long holiday shopping lists, endless holiday events, less sleep, over indulging and anxiety around family events and holiday travel. Leaving us feeling fatigued, stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, our resolve to resist cravings weakened and self care becomes challenging. We become fixated on food, weight gain, over indulging, dieting and guilt. The holidays make it very challenging to stick to a healthy eating plan.
It is no secret that the holidays and healthy living don’t always go hand in hand. While you may not be in control of the delicious food and enticing scents on your holiday table, you can meet those challenges armed with a plan that will help you stay mentally and physically healthy throughout the holiday season. The goal is to focus on the love and the experience and it will be easier to focus less on the food.
Tips for eating smart and staying healthy during the holidays
1. Have A Plan Eat as close to your usual meal times to keep your blood sugar steady. If you know you will be eating later than usual, eat a small high protein or healthy fat snack, like avocado, hummus, quinoa or a handful of raw almonds to keep your blood sugar balanced and to avoid showing up ravenous.
If you are a guest, offer to bring a healthy dish along.
Eat consistently throughout the day and don’t skip meals to save up for the feast. It will be harder to manage your blood sugar and your appetite, and you will be more likely to overeat. Eating small snacks and medium meals throughout the day will improve digestion and reduce the amount you’re eating overall.
Moderation will be your saving grace during the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an indulgent, festive dinner, but you will want to make sure that your meals surrounding it are healthy and nutrient dense.
Don't graze, nibble or munch mindlessly while cooking. This will lead you to be full by the time dinner is served and will set you up to overeat. To avoid grazing, sit down while you eat anything , and make sure that all of the food you eat is on a plate. This will help you be more mindful of what you are eating.
2. Outsmart The Buffet
Make healthy choices. Take a small plate of the foods you
love and then move away from the buffet table. If you taste something and don't love it, don’t eat it.
Begin with vegetables to fill up with high fiber nutritious foods. The less that is done to them the better. Try filling half your plate with greens and vegetables , 1/4 protein, 1/4 whole grains.
Eating slowly and mindfully gives your stomach enough time to send the hormonal signal to your brain, telling you
that you are full, which will stop you from accidentally overeating. This helps maintain better portion control.
Put your fork down between bites. This key step can help you avoid eating beyond the point of fullness.
Avoid or limit alcohol to two drinks. If you do drink stick with wine, champagne, tequila and avoid the high sugar mixers and juices. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food and always drink a full glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage.
Find healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes. You don’t have to give up your holiday favorites, you just make need a few modifications. Swap out high fat, refined and processed ingredients with cleaner healthier alternatives instead. With simple substitutions, you can keep all your favorites on your plate without all the excess calories.
Homemade is always better than processed foods. Canned, processed, and pre-made foods are full of excess salt and sugar that can be avoided by making the dishes yourself. Making food from scratch will create more awareness and control around what you are eating.
3. Keep Moving This is a busy time of year and you have a lot on your plate and your physical activity can get crowded out. Being active daily is your secret holiday weapon. Physical activity will help reduce stress and burn extra calories during this most stressful time of year. Get moving with friends and family, such as taking a walk after a holiday meal.
4. Get Your Zzz’s Sleep gets sacrificed when we are going out more and staying out later. Sleep loss can make it harder to manage your blood sugar. When you are sleep deprived you’ll tend to eat more and prefer high fat, high sugar foods . Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to guard against mindless eating. Sticking to your sleep schedule will improve your quality of sleep both now and after the holidays. Relaxation, lavender essential oils and gratitude rituals at bedtime will help you unwind and remind you how much you have to be grateful for.
5. Take Time For Yourself The holidays are full of family and friends, and while this can be a great thing, it can also be draining and stressful. Whether you’re staying with family over the holidays or attending a large number of events, remember to take time every day to practice extreme self care. Go for a walk, yoga, meditate, take a bath, read or listen to an inspirational book to feed your soul. Take a few minutes of quiet every day to recharge.
6. Hydrate Dehydration not only leaves you thirsty, it affects your health and mental focus. Drinking water first thing in the morning is critical to kick start your body’s metabolic process. Staying hydrated throughout the day and especially over the holidays can help curb cravings and even control weight gain. Alcohol dehydrates you, drink plenty of water to prevent a hangover. Water hydrates your skin cells and hydration is one of the keys to younger looking skin. Skin is an organ and just like the rest of your body it needs hydration to function properly and keeps you looking and feeling youthful. Water helps to prevent nasty
germs that make us sick by lubricating our membranes and flushing toxins out of our system. Aim for drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day to reach suggested H2o consumption. Adding sliced fruit or whole cranberries makes for a more festive glass.
Eating well and staying healthy can be difficult over the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. By maintaining your physical and mental health with some of these easy tips, you will be able to start the New Year off strong.
As an integrative nutritionist, wellness and lifestyle coach, Rebecca’s practice focuses on real food, mindfulness and creating sustainable lasting change. No diets, No deprivation. Simple mindful eating habits ensure that you invest your time and energy in celebrating the season without guilt or regret. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, if you slip up, get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.
Give yourself or someone you love the gift of Radiant Health and meet A New You in 2020.