With the hustle and bustle of the holidays this month, it can be hard to stay healthy, active and on track with your health goals. When you are going from party to party or hosting your own, there can be so many tempting foods and drinks that can get you off track.
While it’s okay to indulge on those special treats, especially at this time of year, there is a reason they are called ‘treats’. Because they are okay in moderation, when balanced with other, healthier options. There are many things you can do to stay healthy during the holidays.
Limit the Sweet Treats
This can be a tough one at this time of year! There are so many delicious, rich treats to tempt us everywhere we look. From boxes of chocolates that we get as gifts to gingerbread cookies. From candy canes to decadent desserts, how are we to resist?
The good news is that you don’t have to completely resist. It’s okay to indulge in the sweet stuff occasionally. If you are at a party that has a lot of goodies to choose from, try limiting your choices to two options. Or, have a few smaller pieces, such as a small cookie or square. Then walk away from the dessert table and stick with the savory choices.
The sweet stuff also includes alcoholic drinks. If you plan on having cocktails or wine, limit to one or two during the evening. These drinks have high sugar content and can basically be considered a ‘liquid dessert’. Eggnog with or without alcohol is also heavy in the sugar and calorie content as well. Keep all of these choices to a minimum.
On the topic of alcoholic drinks, if you are indulging in drinks at a party, make sure you stay hydrated and alternate with a glass of water between cocktails. You’ll drink less that way and you’ll be thankful the next morning when you don’t wake up with a pounding headache.
It’s also important to stay hydrated for other health reasons. It helps your body flush out toxins and deliver nutrients more efficiently. It will help you eat less too! If you drink a glass of water before heading out and continue drinking it throughout the party, you will feel fuller and be less likely to overeat.
Eat Slowly & Mindfully
Take your time when eating and enjoy each bite you put in your mouth. Don’t rush. Savor the flavors and thoroughly chew your food before swallowing. When you eat slowly and mindfully you will enjoy your food more and you will also notice sooner when you feel full. This will keep you from eating too much and you’ll feel satisfied from your food instead of feeling stuffed.
Take smaller portions when filling your plate. This way you can choose more varieties of foods and decide what you may like seconds of. Just because you have a bigger plate, doesn’t mean you have to fill it completely. Better to take smaller amounts and go for seconds then piling on too much the first time. It will make you more aware of how much you are eating as well.
Look for Healthier Substitutes
When you are preparing food at home, there are many healthier options you can use to substitute the heavier, full-calorie choices. Here are a few examples:
- Use plain yogurt instead of sour cream
- Make squash or sweet potato instead of the traditional mashed potatoes
- Offer homemade hummus as a dip for veggies or crackers instead of the heavy, creamy dips
- Use alternative flours like coconut or spelt when baking
- Use honey instead of refined sugar when making sweet treats
Make Time for Exercise
When your social schedule is jam-packed, it can be hard to find the time to squeeze in a workout session. Going to the gym may not always be possible when you are very busy and want to spend time with your family, especially if you head out of town for the holidays. If you can fit in even 15-30 minutes a day, it is better than not working out at all.
Try to sneak in an early morning workout before everyone else in the house wakes up. It will get you started off right in your day and give you a boost of energy to make it through your full schedule.
Go for more walks. Getting outside to walk is such a great form of exercise and stress-relief during the holidays. My family always had a tradition of going for a long walk together after our big Christmas meal, before we brought out the dessert. It was a great way to work off that huge meal and bond as a family, while getting some much-needed movement.
Make Time for Self-Care
Taking time for yourself is something that can be overlooked, but is important for your emotional, mental and physical health and well being. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, like a weekend at a spa (although those are nice). Keeping it simple makes it easier to fit into your schedule if you are very busy.
Take time to relax and unwind. Whether it’s curling up on the couch with a blanket and a good book, watching a good movie or having a nice, hot bath, look for things you enjoy doing that can help you relax. Sneaking off to have an hour or two on your own is beneficial too, especially if you’re an introvert like me. After being surrounded by people at various social gatherings, it’s necessary to have quality alone time to recharge.
Be okay with saying ‘no’. This can be a tough one for some people. We can feel obligated to be everything for everyone and when we say no to something, it can be hard not to feel guilty about it. But, it’s important to have boundaries and learn how to turn things down so we don’t overload ourselves.
While the holidays are times to “eat, drink and be merry”, there are so many things we can implement to make sure we stay on track with a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to comment below things you do over the holiday season to stay healthy. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!