A nutritionists guide to the season of indulgence!
With the holidays upon us, maintaining healthy routines sometimes feels extra hard. But it doesn’t have to! With a little mindfulness and planning, you can stay on top of your health while fully enjoying the holiday season.
- Be kind to yourself! It’s a special time of year; it’s okay to eat an extra cookie or indulge in that decadent cup of hot cocoa. Allow yourself to enjoy seasonal treats with the understanding that this does not define your daily diet and you will get back on track tomorrow.
- Journal. Writing down your intentions for the day—whether that means eating greens at every meal, finishing a project, or volunteering—helps you stick to those focus areas and feel successful in meeting your goals for the day. This is really helpful for staying on track when life gets chaotic and framing a positive mindset. Bonus points for writing down what you’re grateful for every day, this has been shown to improve mental and emotional health.
- Hydrate! Did you know that for every caffeinated and alcoholic beverage you drink, you need an extra glass of water to counteract its dehydrating effects? Keep this in mind as you sip those delicious holiday lattes and cocktails, and try carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day so that drinking water frequently becomes second nature. When it comes to alcohol, always try to have one glass of water in between drinks. This eases the detox burden on your body, supports your metabolism, and helps you feel better the next morning!
- Do something nice for yourself. It’s a wonderful time of year to show others your love for them through gifts and acts of kindness, but what about showing yourself a little love? Buy yourself something nice, get a massage, book that new fitness class you’ve been wanting to try, or just make your favorite treat at home and enjoy every last bite of it. You can’t be your best for others if you’re not your best to yourself.
- Make a dish to contribute. If you’re going to lots of holiday parties and worried about the many tempting foods that may not be part of your healthy eating plan, make something to bring that you know you can enjoy. That way, you’re not stuck starving or eating something just for lack of options. Since I’m gluten-free and dairy-free, I love bringing a dish to parties that I know I can eat without worry.
- Put a healthy spin on classic favorites. Does your favorite childhood recipe call for white sugar? Try coconut sugar or honey instead. How about food colorings? You can find cleaner ones, derived from vegetables, at natural foods stores. There are tons of ways to still make that sentimental dish without yucky ingredients, it just may take a little investigating. Have a question about ingredient swaps? Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help!
- Stay active. If you need to skip your normal yoga class for a holiday party, by all means, do it! But try to work some activity into your day, even just 15 minutes, to offset the stress and extra snacks that are abundant this time of year. A simple walk around the block is a great way to get your blood pumping and helps to clear the mind. There are also plenty of quick workouts on YouTube that you can do in your own living room, no matter what time of day it is.
- Get your 8 hours! Sleep is such an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, for your body and your mind. This time of year, it’s easy to push back your bedtime to fit in everything else on your schedule. But it’s super important to remember that your immune system needs extra support when you’re stressed, it needs time to heal and repair. Sleep allows this to happen. So make sleep a priority every night and you’ll feel better throughout the day!
- Breathe. This is such a basic part of, well, survival, but as we get caught up in our hectic lives we may not take a nice, deep breath all day long. Set an alarm on your phone for several times a day, then stop and focus on taking five long, deep breaths. You’ll feel energized and calm, ready to jump back in.
- Eat mindfully. Make an effort to eat in a calm environment free from distraction. Before each meal or snack, pause and take note of the look, texture, and smell of your food. Taste your food and notice all the subtle flavors—especially the fun seasonal ones that you may not normally eat. Chew slowly, put down your utensils in between bites, and take the time to notice what this food is doing for your body. Not only will you feel more satiated, but this practice is also beneficial for digestion and overcoming the urge to stress eat when life gets crazy.
I hope these simple tips help you have a healthy, happy, holiday season!
For healthy recipes to suit any occasion, check out my Recipes page!
And why not make your New Years resolution now? Head on over to my Nutrition Therapy page to learn about customized nutritional counseling and what it can do for you.