Navigating the Holidays on your Health Journey
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Holidays can be challenging when you’re focused on creating new, healthier habits. Food is so often a part of our holiday traditions - activities like baking cookies and over-eating and drinking at holiday parties are part of our culture. However, if you're striving to live a healthier lifestyle, rest assured that holidays and special occasions don’t have to derail you!
Most holidays are just one day but if your holiday gets extended to a weekend or longer of celebrating, focus on the basics so you can spend your time and energy creating memories.
HERE ARE 8 WAYS TO STAY ON TRACK DURING THE HOLIDAYS:
1. Walk everyday. A 10-minute walk after each meal is great if you can’t do 30 minutes a day! This will not only keep you moving but it will help to normalize your blood sugar and improve digestion. And, if you can, walk outside! Spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being.
2. Prioritize protein. Ensure that ⅓ of your plate is protein - fish, meat, eggs, dairy, tofu are the best sources. This will help keep you full and satisfied. Batch cook - grill, bake, or air-fry - proteins so that you always have some available, even on the busiest days! Crock pots and Instapots are especially helpful during the busy holidays. Download my Build Your Plate Guide to create a healthy, balanced meal using the plate method.
3. Eat vegetables with most meals. ⅓ -½ plate full of vegetables is ideal for hitting your fiber goal (25 g a day) and keeping you full! You can’t overeat vegetables so fill up on these. Leafy greens and frozen vegetables are an easy addition to any meal! Consider roasting extra vegetables and eat them as leftovers.
4. Stop eating when full. Honor your hunger cues - eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Chewing every bite 20-30 times and stretching your total meal time to 20 minutes will give your gut and brain time to communicate and keep you from overeating.
5. Prepare foods that make you feel good. Going to a party or holiday potluck meal? Always bring foods that you can happily eat! Recreate old favorites and turn them into healthy holiday recipes. This is especially true if you have food sensitivities. Use your food list to make sure to make dishes that are safe for you to eat - and bring extras to share!
6. Start new healthy holiday traditions in your family. Stay active by taking a family walk or hike, go for a bike ride, play outdoor games, or have a family dance party. You might also practice a family fast - try a 12-16 hour fast from food, or a fast from screens and technology! Look for activities that don’t involve food and support your overall wellness goals.
7. Don't neglect your sleep. Getting quality sleep can help you make good decisions and stick to your new habits. Take advantage of the extra days off and get a little extra sleep, or at least stick to your normal sleep/wake schedule. Limit alcohol consumption and screen time before bed.
8. Adopt a “progress not perfection” mindset. The more you practice this, the easier it gets to separate your self-worth from the “junk” food. Not every day will go as planned and that’s OK! Take it one meal at a time - do the best you can and remember that it’s just one meal! Tomorrow is a new day.
The most important thing you can do for yourself leading up to the holidays is to give yourself a little grace! Be realistic about your goals during the harried season and focus on maintenance, if only for a short while.
For healthy holiday recipes, check out my Thanksgiving Pinterest board!