Staying healthy is a priority for many during time off. It is so easy to get swept up during the holidays and to see our health priorities fall by the wayside. How often do you hear people say: “It’s the holidays, so I am going to let myself go. But once the new year comes, I am back to my diet and being more careful.” Unfortunately, this is a mindset that will simply keep you in a cycle of extremes. It is important to stay mindful of your goal to stay healthy, while at the same time not depriving yourself and not feeling guilty if you have some treats. Here are some tips to help you keep your health a priority over the holidays.
1) Avoid overeating. This is so hard over the holidays. Don’t go to a party on an empty stomach. Eat something before such as a complex carb and a protein, something like an apple with almond butter. Once you get to the party, don’t eat everything you see or everything you are offered. Choose what you eat by prioritizing healthier choices (ideally half your plate is filled with veggies) and moderate your food intake. If it is a buffet, walk around first before you start putting everything on your plate. Eat slowly and mindfully and put your fork down between bites – it will take about 20 minutes before your body signals to you that you are full. So before eating a second serving, give yourself a 15-20-minute break – chat with people, and drink a little bit of water. You may realize you are full and do not want a second portion.
2) Be mindful of alcohol consumption. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach; alcohol will increase your appetite and reduce your ability to control what you eat. In addition to this, alcoholic beverages are very high in calories and sugar (a glass of eggnog is 500 calories!). If you are consuming alcohol, alternate with water in between drinks to slow your pace. A good rule of thumb is sticking to 2-3 drinks. And drink lots of water!
3) Distance from unhealthy snack bowls. We all go to parties where we are surrounded by bowls of unhealthy foods; chips, chocolates, cookies, crackers, dips, and other holiday goodies. Don’t sit or stand next to a bowl of food. This will cause you to mindlessly reach for food as you talk. If you have the tendency to eat “recreationally” – pop a mint in your mouth and this will help you from reaching into the treats.
4) Stay active. During the holidays, remember to stay active! It is so important to stay healthy, but also helps get rid of that holiday stress. At a party, put on your dancing shoes and get grooving! Just make sure you do not use exercise as an excuse to eat more!
5) Take time to relax. People often feel stressed and exhausted around the holidays. If you don’t have time to take a full day off, make sure you at least take a little bit of time to relax. Take a moment every day to breathe and stretch and clear your mind. Listen to relaxing music, take a walk, read a book, get a massage. Make this a priority.
6) Prevent infections. There will be hugs, kisses, food sharing, and gatherings with many people. Wash your hands often, especially before eating! And if you are sick, it is probably better to miss the party than to get everyone sick.
7) Moderation is a great mantra. Food is a key part of the holidays, but focusing on family and friends, connection, and laughter is what will be most meaningful. Follow the 80/20 rule. If you are usually balanced and eat in moderation, then it is ok to indulge occasionally. Don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t think “all or nothing.”
And on that happy note, stay healthy and happy holidays!
Written by Catherine Binette, Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Catherine has a clinical focus in general wellness and women’s health including teens and moms. She currently lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Disclaimer – Everything shared is for informative purposes only. It is not intended for assessment, diagnosis or treatment purposes. If you feel there needs to be further investigation, please seek out a qualified health care professional for a proper assessment.