Top tips for keeping you healthy and happy this holiday season
Angela Warm, Health Editor
For many of us, the approaching holidays are about making memories with family and friends, exchanging gifts, and sharing delicious food. It can also mean more stress, travel headaches, and navigating your relationship with food at the expense of your health. During the holidays we tend to throw our health goals out the frosted advent window in lieu of holiday parties, sweets, and a shot of overindulgence. We all know the last two years haven’t been easy.
The good news is you don’t have to toss your hard-earned health goals out even during the holidays. By following a few simple tips, you can have your cake and eat it too, or um rather enjoy the festivities and stay healthy without the guilt. (Too busy? Skip to the end for my summary tips)
Here are a few tips to keep you healthy and happy during the holidays:
Sugar has a negative impact on not only our waistline but on our immune system as well. Sugar is a powerful and addictive mood-optimizing neurotransmitter, meaning it sends signals to our brain to keep eating more and more. In fact, sugar is the one food we don’t have an “off switch” for. Meaning we tend to never feel full from it. It is also the main culprit in weight gain and the most common diseases. Skip it altogether if you can or have a tiny bit. Share a slice of cake with your partner and limit yourself to a little each day or only on special occasions. It is important to know your limits and know what triggers you to reach for the sweets.
Oftentimes the busyness of the holidays combined with the cooler weather makes us more likely to forgo our daily workouts. But movement and exercise are just what our bodies (and minds) need this time of year. Find a way to do some type of movement daily whether it is to go for a walk, participate in an in-person or online yoga class, or have a ten-minute dance party with your kids. Even if you can only exercise in small bursts throughout the day, make a concerted effort to do something every day that gets your heart rate up. Try getting in your exercise in the morning before the stress of the day robs you of that golden opportunity.
Moderation & Portion Control
The holidays tend to be associated with over indulgence. And there is nothing inherently wrong with having a festive meal with the ones you love. It is important to make sure you are consuming healthier options for the remainder of the day. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach to the holidays. Make an effort to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch if you know you will be out for a festive evening meal.
I encourage my clients to be more mindful of what they are putting on their plate and ultimately into their bodies. Choosing nutrient dense foods over sweets or processed foods will go further than restricting foods and calories.
Check in with yourself often and Ask yourself if you are really hungry for seconds or thirds. It takes a few minutes for your stomach’s “full” signal to get to your brain. After finishing your first helping, take a break. Make conversation. Go for a short walk. Drink some water. Then recheck your appetite. You might realize you are full or want only a small portion of seconds or none at all.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the holiday season is going without a meal so you have room for the feast later on. That’s not how it works. When you are hungry, you typically don’t make good food choices. Add to that the irritability and cravings that come along with it and you are setting yourself up for a bad case of “hangry”.
It’s important to stick to your regularly scheduled meals and make sure you are getting a healthy portion of protein and fat to help regulate your blood sugar as well as your cravings.
Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, like apple slices with peanut butter, a small handful of nuts or some hummus on whole grain crackers.
VEGETABLES – THE STAR
I always tell my clients to make the vegetables the leading lady of your plate, not the supporting role they have long been relegated to.. These are nutrient dense foods that give you the vitamins and nutrients you need and boost your immune system. They are also vital to helping regulate your hormones. Load up on leafy greens and go easy on the the white sugar and bread as much as possible.
As the weather gets cooler and we get distracted with all the holiday shenanigans, it is easy to forget to drink. And no I’m not talking about hitting the eggnog. Water is essential for good digestion, keeping your energy levels up and boosting your metabolism. So make sure you are drinking good water as often as possible (except with your meals). Alcohol on the other hand has lots of empty sugary calories that can in turn increase your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat. It also negatively impacts your sleep which leads to more poor eating the next day. Moderation is key when it comes to alcohol consumption.
Most likely a lot of effort was put into preparing your wonderful holiday meals. Chewing your food slowly and mindfully aids your digestion as well as sends signals to the brain that you are full. Aim for chewing each bite slowly 10-15 times before swallowing and put your fork down between bites to slow down your eating pattern. Make a game of it and notice the texture and flavors in each bite. Doing this can also help distract you from having to talk to your crazy Uncle – hard to do when your mouth is full of food.
Irregular sleep schedules can lead to poor sleep quality, fatigue, poor eating habits, and daytime sleepiness that has a ripple effect on your health and wellbeing. Avoid this by going to bed and waking up as close to the same time as you usually do. This will help regulate your appetite and keep you in tip-top shape to fight off any colds that might be floating around.
JUST SAY NO
Just because we’ve been in a pandemic for the last couple of years doesn’t mean you have to go crazy this holiday season. Take care of yourself, both your mental and physical needs. It’s OK to say no to something you don’t want to do. Prioritize rest and self-care now and be rewarded with a calmer and lighter you for the new year.
If you are feeling drained already and need some tips to boost your energy through the holidays, I am hosting an online webinar on December 1st. During this one-hour seminar, you will learn the safest and quickest ways to boost your energy naturally. Learn more and register here.
TOP TEN HEALTHY HOLIDAY TIPS:
- Reduce Sugar Intake
- Get Your Move On
- Portion Control
- No Starving
- Let the Veggies take the lead
- Stay Well Hydrated
- Chew Your Food
- Prioritize Sleep
- It’s OK To Say No
- Sign up for my Energy Boosters Webinar
🎅 Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season 🎄
Have you downloaded our free ebook – 21 Hidden Gems of Switzerland? If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to download it while planning your next Swiss Getaway.
To read posts from October, click here