Three Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

I love the holidays. It’s a time when we have the incredible opportunity to gather with our friends and loved ones.

Great times with friends and families usually involves celebration. With celebration comes rounds of drinks, generous helpings of unhealthy food, and social pressure to overdrink and overeat.

I also can’t help but notice that many of us get more uptight, anxious, and stressed the closer we get to Christmas as family and financial stressors set in.

With social pressure and stress, we tend to give ourselves a pass and let our our health slip because, well, it’s the holidays! We allow ourselves to eat, drink and pack on pounds, which only adds to our stress.

There are three things we’re going to do during the holidays:

  1. We’re going to eat
  2. We’re going to drink
  3. We’re going to be stressed

We don’t have to be perfect during the holidays, but it’s not a time we should let our health slip with the idea that we will make up for it in January.

Being healthy is a lifestyle, not a resolution that starts over in January. Besides, only 8% of us keep our New Year’s Resolutions.

I want you to enter the holidays prepared to maintain your healthy habits. Since we know we’re going to eat, drink, and be stressed, here are a few things we can do to plan ahead keep our health (and sanity) during the holidays:

We’re going to eat

If you’re attending an event, eat a high-protein snack before you get there. High-protein snacks will help you feel fuller longer than high-carbohydrate snacks. When you feel full, you make more objective choices about what you’re eating since you’re not starving. You can even consider bringing your own food to events if possible.

Set a weight goal to keep you on track. Don’t gain any weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Weigh yourself daily; if you’ve gained more than two pounds (from baseline), simply go on a steamed-veggies-only diet until your baseline is reached again and then return to a healthy diet.

If you’re hosting a party, take some time to plan a healthier menu instead of typical holiday foods. Be sure to check out my post with healthy holiday recipes here. Serve your guests whole, unprocessed foods that can truly nourish your body.

If you’re planning an event, think about creating memories that don’t involve food. Find things to do like ice-skating, taking a painting class, or going to a holiday themed symphony, musical, or ballet.

We’re going to drink

Liquid calories are just as important as the ones you eat. Avoid holiday drinks and cocktails with heavy cream and sweetened mixes. Instead, opt for red wine or clear alcohols mixed with water, club soda and a splash of lime.

Drink a glass of water between each drink to remain hydrated.

Know your limits and switch to club soda and lime juice to avoid overdrinking.

We’re going to be stressed

Holiday stress is virtually unavoidable, so finding ways to manage and counteract this stress is critical to your wellbeing.

Meditation and yoga are great ways to help you relax and manage your stress.

Also, trim your to-do list. Many things you have on your list can be dropped or delegated. Make things easier and simpler.

Shifting your focus away from yourself and to others is the number one way you can reduce your stress. It’s the season to give. Volunteer or take goods to a shelter or food pantry, and be sure to involve your family.

No matter how busy you are make sure to take at least 30 minutes for yourself every day. Go for a walk, meditate, read a book or write in a journal; do anything you enjoy. I highly recommend a 30 minute stroll before or after dinner.

Remain focused on your goals

Finally, focus on your overall goals this holiday season and remind yourself of the commitment you made to keep healthy.

Remember that you don’t have to be perfect, but be good enough to keep your health intact. Give yourself some grace, but be sure to ask how whatever you are doing is going to impact your health.

As you continue your journey, I along with your Epic Functional Medicine Center team will be here to support and motivate you every step of the way, even during the holidays.

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll tackle the topic of resolutions as we head into the new year.