The holiday season is one of the trickiest times to keep up with our healthiest habits. Between the fast pace, stress, and temptation we sometimes feel doomed. Don’t! Follow the ten tips below and enjoy the holidays without the guilt afterward.
Don’t Skip Meals
It may be tempting to think of skipping lunch, knowing that you will have a big holiday dinner later. But in doing this, you will likely be setting yourself up to overeat. Instead of skipping a meal before a holiday feast, enjoy a high protein/high fiber snack such as Greek yogurt with some almonds and plenty of water an hour or so prior to your special meal or party. This way you won’t end up ravenous and sabotage your well-meaning efforts.
Make Friends with Holiday Eating
All of those holiday foods are going to be around for at least the next two months. Instead of dread, make peace and come to terms with them. Now is not the best time to try and lose weight, although aiming to maintain your current weight is certainly a good idea. Instead of depriving yourself of holiday cheer (and possibly feeling left out and resentful), decide to enjoy reasonable portions of beverages, appetizers, entrees, and yes, even desserts which you have thoughtfully selected from all the options available. Then sit back and enjoy your choices slowly and mindfully without anxiety or guilt.
Keep Family and Friends First
Expand your idea of what holidays are about instead of just fixating on food. Organize a few party games for everyone, talk about your happy or funny memories of past holidays, go for a group walk together, sing, decorate, be creative and see what other ideas you can come up with. Put your family, friends, and spiritual practices first. There is more to the holidays than just eating!
Running around shopping, going to multiple parties and events, entertaining guests and so on… it’s easy to forget to drink enough water when we are so busy. Thirst is easily mistaken for hunger and is a common culprit of eating when we aren’t hungry. Keep a bottle of water with you as you run from activity to activity and drink frequently to help combat fatigue and control your appetite.
Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule
With the many extra activities around holiday time another easy misstep is to stay up or stay out late and miss out on precious sleep. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night not only helps keep you energized, it helps ward off seasonal colds and flus, is associated with lower levels of inflammation, and makes it easier to maintain an overall positive outlook during the hectic holiday season.
Maintain Your Exercise Habits
Crunched for time during the holidays? Don’t ditch your workout! Instead, do a modified version of your workout or combine exercise with your other activities such as happily parking your car in the spot farthest away in the lot so you are forced to walk farther. Our rule is to never reschedule more than two workouts without substituting it with something else. Check out these excuse busters for skipping exercise during the holidays: Top 6 Excuses for Skipping Exercise During the Holidays
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Mom was right. Research shows that hand washing is one of the best and easiest ways to prevent both getting sick yourself, and spreading germs to others, especially during cold and flu season. That’s a win-win!
Plan Ahead for Extra Traffic and Crowds
‘Tis the season and extra traffic and more people out in public are just going to be unavoidable. Knowing this and accepting it ahead of time will help you plan your schedule to allow for extra driving time and for waiting in lines, and will help keep your stress level as low as possible. Stress leads to mindless eating and can throw us off our good habits.
Plan Gifting Sanity
If you have a large family or a large circle of friends and feel overwhelmed by the financial and/or time element of shopping and gift giving, consider drawing names to take the pressure off. A Secret Santa or White Elephant gift game can add an element of fun to festivities. Or, give yourself and your loved ones the gift of time and plan one-on-one get togethers for after the holiday rush when you can spend quality time together.
Make Time for Yourself
Make sure you are not so overscheduled with holiday activities that you don’t have any time left over for yourself. It’s the season of giving, but we can only give when our own cup is full. Plan ahead of time to continue whatever your usual self-care routines are and perhaps schedule a little something extra for yourself to celebrate making it through another year!