By Jennifer Hand
It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is upon us. Everywhere we look we are inundated with endless opportunities to overindulge: cookie exchanges, work parties, holiday events and even aisles at the supermarket devoted solely to Christmas candy. Here are 15 tips to help resist these temptations and keep yourself healthy during the holidays:
1. Keep Your Body Fueled
Eating regularly (and not “saving up for”) helps you operate from a more balanced, even place. When you’re starving, your blood sugar is low, and your body will crave an instant hit of sugar (like cookies and candy) to boost your energy.
When your body is fueled with snacks and meals throughout the day, it helps keep hunger levels steady and even—which means you will be less likely to overindulge and more likely to make smarter choices.
2. BYOO (Bring Your Own Options)
If you want to ensure there will be healthy choices at holiday happenings, offer to make something and bring it yourself.
Do you have a work party to attend? Offer to make a salad. Headed to your in-laws for Christmas Eve? Tell them you’ll bring a vegetable casserole this year.
Make a dish that’s tasty and healthy; you’ll breathe easier knowing that you can bring something that fulfills your own health needs and goals.
3. Add Protein To Each Meal
Protein helps keep you satiated and balanced. It also cuts down on sugar cravings. A simple trick to help you crave fewer sweets is to make sure you’re getting enough protein every time you eat.
4. Get Some “You” Time
This is one of the most important times of the year to get some down time. Take breaks if you’ve had too many family parties. Go to an extra yoga class each week. Reserve 15 minutes every morning to sit on your couch and meditate. This time for yourself works wonders in keeping you well-balanced.
5. Stay Hydrated
“During the cold winter months I like to drink hot water with lemon to stay hydrated,” says Nicole Sattler, nutritionist at Nourish Nutrition in Fort Collins.
Staying hydrated helps keep your body healthy. Aim to drink 64 ounces a day and then work your way up to drinking half your body weight in ounces.
6. ENJOY What You Eat!
If you decide to indulge in a piece of pie, make sure you actually enjoy it. This seems like common sense, but so many times when we eat dessert, we’re fighting internal battles within our minds. We feel guilty, berate ourselves while we’re eating it, and then criticize after we eat it. When you let yourself slow down and savor, you’ll not only enjoy the dessert, but you won’t need four more pieces to satisfy you.
7. Aim For Balance
It’s easy to get bogged down with expectations that we need to eat “super healthy.” Instead of putting pressure on yourself to refuse all treats and only eat “good” foods, aim for a balanced approach. Allow yourself to indulge from time to time but balance it out with healthy meals.
8. Get Moving
Get outside (or inside) and get moving. It is amazing what a little bit of exercise can do for your mindset during the holidays. Exercise increases endorphins, which are those brain chemicals that make you feel happy.
Whether it’s a walk outside, some weightlifting, a yoga class or a run in the park, use this as an excuse to exercise AND take some time for yourself!
9. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Remember, it’s only about five to six weeks when our entire society seems to let healthy eating fall by the wayside. If you eat too many cookies one night, let it go. Tomorrow is a new day. Be kind to yourself. Don’t let a couple bad days turn into weeks of unhealthy holiday eating. Allowing some room for error will keep expectations in check and make for an enjoyable holiday season.
10. Have a “Party Plan”
There is nothing like showing up to a holiday party and being so hungry that you could eat a horse (or 27 of the cookies on the dessert tray). Remember to have a healthy snack to tide you over prior to the party, so you don’t show up absolutely ravenous.
11. Keep Obligations to a Minimum
Usually during the holidays, we end up being overbooked and overwhelmed. Look at where you can say no this holiday. This can be challenging when you’ve always done something but keeping obligations to a minimum helps you say “yes” to the things you actually want to do.
12. Schedule in Self-Care
“Don’t forget about self-care,” says Monica Owsicheck, intuitive healer at Peaks of Life in Fort Collins, “It can be as simple as getting adequate sleep and drinking plenty of water.” So, schedule in that massage, yoga class, coffee date or whatever else helps you feel taken care of when life gets hectic.
13. Meal Prep
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to meal plan. While this takes a bit of work up front, it enables you to come home from a busy day and have something planned for dinner. This is an easy way to help you make healthy choices when you’re tired and exhausted (and your willpower has run out).
14. Get Back On Track If You Overindulge
If you overindulge, don’t dwell on it. Just get back on track. Go for a walk or run. Eat a healthy breakfast the next morning to kickstart your day. Schedule in a good workout. Add in lots of vegetables to your next meal. Don’t beat yourself up, just choose to nourish your body at the next possible opportunity.
When all else fails, breathe! The holidays can be very stressful but a simple deep breath can anchor us in the present moment. Not only does mindful deep breathing calm our nervous system, but it also enables us to truly be in the moment to enjoy all of the special holiday memories.