We all know that the holidays can be an especially tough time to make healthy choices. From Halloween all the way through to New Year’s, the temptation to make unhealthy choices feels like it’s coming at us from every angle.
With all the excitement, family dinners, and holiday parties, a lot of people give up on their health goals entirely. They say “screw it” and decide to put it off until next year.
You, my friend, are not one of those people. You want to find a way to stay healthy this holiday season, without feeling restricted and having to give up your favorite treats.
The great news is, you absolutely can enjoy all the holiday foods you love without regretting it all come January 1st. All it takes is a little bit of intentional planning, a few mindset shifts, and one or two healthy hacks, and you’ll be cruising through this holiday season; no food guilt, weight gain or deprivation required!
10 Tips For Staying Healthy This Holiday Season
Ready to learn my top 10 healthy holiday tips so you can start enjoying this holiday season and stay on track with your health goals?
Awesome! Let’s dive in…
Tip #1 – Decide if you want to lose, maintain or gain
The first step to a healthy holiday season is determining what that actually means for YOU. Think about where you want to be coming into the new year. Some people want to stay on track with their weight loss goals throughs the holidays. Some people might want to enjoy the holiday treats while maintaining their current results. Others are ok with gaining a little extra weight if that means they don’t have to hold themselves back from their favorite holiday treats. There’s no right or wrong choice here, it’s all about you and your goals. But make the decision consciously now so you don’t end up with extra weight at the end of the year that you didn’t want or expect.
Tip #2 – Stay Hydrated
When the snacking and alcohol consumption goes up during the holidays, often, our water intake is one of the first things to get pushed to the back-burner. Remember that no matter what your goal weight is, adequate water intake is essential for your cognitive function, metabolism and for maintaining your DNA. Keep your water bottle handy this holiday season and make sure you drink at least one bottle in the mornings before you reach for the coffee.
Tip #3 – Keep Moving
Whether you maintain your gym schedule or just go for a light afternoon walk, moving your body each day make a bigger difference than you might think! Studies show that even just going for a quick walk after eating can help with your metabolism, blood sugar regulation and digestion. Make it fun by popping your earbuds in and listening to a podcast or inviting a friend or family member to join you. Just make it a point to get your steps in this holiday season.
Tip #4 – Make A Colorful Plate
A lot of times our plate at a family dinner can look like 50 shades of beige. That’s almost always a sign that you’re lacking the fiber and nutrients your body want and needs. Fill up your plate first with any of the colorful veggies that are available, then move on to serving up a smaller portion of your favorite starchy carbs. By prioritizing the color-rich, nutrient-dense foods this holiday season you’ll reduce the likelihood of digestion and blood-sugar troubles.
Tip #5 – Stay Present As You Eat
When you sit down to eat your meal, focus on enjoying each bite instead of thinking about the next one. Fully enjoy the meal and pay attention to how your body (and stomach) feels as you eat. Chew your food slowly and put your fork down every now and then to check-in and see if you’re actually still hungry. When you begin to feel satisfied, it’s time to slow down. If you’re planning on saving room for dessert, keep that in mind as you’re eating your plate. Stop eating just a little before you hit your ‘satisfied’ level so you can enjoy your dessert without overeating.
Tip #6 – Don’t Bring Home Leftovers
No one ever gained weight from one family dinner, but when the unhealthy choices last for days or weeks, that’s when you can get into trouble. The easiest way to set yourself up for success is to skip bringing the unhealthy foods home with you. Sure, you can bring them home and just focus on portion control if you really wanted to. But personally, I find that most leftovers just aren’t worth the effort it would take for me to eat them in moderation. Instead, I prefer to leave them with the hosts and get right back to eating my normal foods at the next meal.
Tip #7 – Know Your “Worth It” Foods
Let’s face it — there’s going to be some holiday treats that will always feel special and worth every bite. Maybe that’s your aunt’s famous stuffing, your grandma’s homemade cookies, or your mom’s classic sweet potato casserole. Whatever it is for you, spend some time thinking about it and consciously choosing what your “worth it” foods really are. Then, spend some time thinking about what foods are usually around at the holidays that you’d be willing to skip out on, to save room for your “worth it” foods without overeating. To me that’s usually the rolls…Unless it’s some sort of gourmet homemade biscuit, bread usually isn’t THAT special. Especially not when it’s something you could buy at a grocery store any other day of the year if you wanted.
Tip #8 – Use Portion Control
Treat your body with love by limiting the amount of foods (especially, starchy or sugary foods) you eat this holiday season. Think about how you would feed a baby who was left in your care…Would you keep shoveling spoonfuls of food into it’s mouth just because it hadn’t finished what was on the plate?? NO! You’d treat it with love, compassion, and caring by paying close attention to the signs that they are giving about whether or not they’re still hungry. If they wanted to eat more than just a small portion of dessert, would you keep feeding it to them until they were stuffed? NO! You’d use restraint because you’re the adult and you’re thinking about what’s best for them in the long run. Treat your own body with the same level of caring, compassion and love that you’d show to a child.
Tip #3 – Make Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Treats
I love making healthier versions of my favorite holiday treats. I still get to enjoy the foods I’ve always loved (sweets!) without dealing with all the negative repercussions that often follow. If you’re craving a specific dish this holiday season, try searching Google or Pinterest for a healthier recipe. You’ll be amazed at how many easy, healthier swaps there are that can taste just as good (or better!) without sending you on a blood-sugar rollercoaster.
Tip #10 – Ignore Comments From Others
Inevitably there will always be that one family member who has to make a comment about your weight or your food at family dinners. Don’t sit around feeling bad about yourself or thinking about all the reasons why they are wrong for saying that. Ruminating on what someone else says or thinks is never helpful. It really just makes you feel worse and it doesn’t impact them whatsoever. This year, be prepared for their comments and let them roll right off your back. Remind yourself that the things that come out of their mouth have everything to do with THEM and little or nothing to do with YOU. No one knows what you should or shouldn’t eat better than you do. Don’t expect them to change…Control what you can (your own thoughts and feelings) and let go of the rest.
One final note!
It’s perfectly acceptable and ok if you’d rather just eat whatever you want and not think about weight loss or making healthy choices this holiday season.
However, if you made it all the way through this post, I’m willing to bet that you’re someone who really cares about fueling her body well and making healthy choices.
If so, I want you to know that, while it’s completely normal to struggle with staying on track during this time of the year, that does not have to be your story.
Other people who struggle through the holidays are usually doing it from a place of self-loathing. Often they’re using willpower and motivation to “stay strong” and try not to make bad choices.
In order to cruise through this holiday season making healthy choices with ease, you need to be sure that you’re mindset is in the right place…
Check in with yourself and ask, “Are the emotions fueling my choices positive or negative?”.
When you’re fueled by positive emotions like love, compassions, and pride, making healthy choices feels easier and much more doable. It feels like an act of self-care.
November 24, 2021