Let’s get right down to it… the holidays bring an immense amount of food stress into our lives. When I think about the table at holiday parties I think of sugar (which sneaks its way into almost every dish) and highly processed foods.
Unless you are making all the food on your own, it is simply impossible to control what is going into each dish. As much as I wish everyone would use healthier alternatives, there are people who choose to cook and bake with not so healthy ingredients. I will be honest with you, I would love a completely plant based/ gluten free/ sugar free/ processed free Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that simply is not possible.
Here is something to remember: Your goals are not your family’s or friends goals. While you might inspire others to make healthier choices it is never okay to force your choices or behaviors on others. Choose your words thoughtfully so you don’t make family or friends feel uncomfortable!
Another thing to remember: One meal or cookie is not going to ruin everything you’ve worked for. It is the holidays… please indulge! The worst thing you can do is feel like you are depriving yourself. Deprivation can lead to stress and even binge eating later. Let yourself have and enjoy the pie or cookies! If you would like some of my favorite tips on how to stay healthy and sane over the holidays check out my guide HERE!
Lastly: Decline kindly and respectfully. When I am offered a type of food that I know will not agree with me or a food that doesn’t align with my values, I simply say “No thank you, I am not in the mood right now”. Avoid using phrases “No thanks I am trying to be healthy” or “No thank you I don’t eat that type of food”. These phrases can make people very uncomfortable and it can hurt others feelings.
This year is a little different than past years. Normally we would have multiple holiday parties to attend, which meant being stared in the face with lots of sweets and processed foods. This year, most of us will be stuck at home. Being home comes with its own challenges too! Temptation doesn’t just happen at the Christmas party, it also happens in the grocery store and in the pantry too. So here is my plan for staying healthy over the holidays:
For any holiday gatherings I need to attend:
- Make my own treats! Instead of buying cookies from the grocery store, I will make my own. I love to make healthier versions of my favorite treats! Even if you choose to bake with refined sugar and flour, it will still be healthier than the boxed cookies from the store that include 30 different ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
- Bring a healthy dish! Because we live driving distance to our families this year, we are able to bring a healthy dish! This way I won’t have to worry over having a healthy option on the table. I do 100% recommend doing this if you can. However, normally we have to travel to visit family over the holidays and I can’t always make my own side dish.
- If I can’t bring my own dish, I try my hardest to choose the healthiest options first. So when creating my plate, I will start by adding all the veggies first. After loading my plate up with veggies, there is usually only a small space left for something else. This is where I will add my protein and anything else that fits.
- Avoid the fried foods. I always preach “treat yourself” BUT hear me out… there is a difference in treating yourself to a slice of pizza, pie or a cookie and leaving feeling good and guilt free vs. treating yourself to something that will make you feel like s**t. I also avoid anything that will cause me to feel bloated or gassy.
- When in doubt, choose the greens. This one works especially if you are dining out, because most restaurants have salads. When you are at a party and you are trying to stick to your health goals, choose the fruits and veggies. I love the idea of adding veggies from the snack boards and then taking shrimp cocktail (because every party has shrimp cocktail) and making my own salad.
When it comes to staying home (which will be a lot this season):
- I am keeping my meals at home healthy. This is so important. The holidays are a time where we indulge more than other times of the year, so it is really important to stay healthy during the week. This means filling up with lots of colorful veggies, lean protein and healthy fats and carbohydrates. If I am staying in on Saturday and watching a Christmas movie, I won’t feel guilty about indulging in a hot cocoa or my favorite cookie! I love to keep things clean and green 7 days a week, and treating myself to my favorite treat or snack 1-2 nights a week!
- I start my day off with a healthy breakfast (even on the holidays). I choose to nourish my body with a meal including greens, lean protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. This will ensure that my blood sugar levels won’t spike. Starting off the day with a sugary breakfast or something as simple as fruit on its own will cause blood sugar levels to spike (which leads to stress on the body). Starting off the day with a well rounded, balanced and nutritious meal will help keep me on the right path to my health and wellness journey and it will also help to keep my stress levels down.
- I am also going to try and move my body more. Usually weekends consist of holiday gatherings which would mean enjoying a cocktail and walking around to mingle. Since holiday gatherings aren’t happening this year, we will be enjoying our favorite cocktail… on the couch. Not only that, but we are stuck inside more because of colder weather which means less outdoor activities. While this all sounds cozy, it can also affect your health and wellness journey. I will still be doing my daily morning workouts, but before or after dinner, I plan on doing a gentle yoga flow or a stretching routine.
- Start off the morning with warm lemon water. This is great to do daily, but especially if you are going to be treating yourself later in the day. Warm lemon water will help improve hydration and improve your digestion.
- Take digestive enzymes and probiotics. These will help keep my immune system healthy and help me digest my food better! I also love adding apple cider vinegar into my daily routine to help with digestion.
- Take all the vitamins!! Just kidding… just a few! Of course vitamins choices should always be taken for your specific needs (and recommended by a professional)! I choose to take Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin E almost everyday. These essential vitamins are important for immunity health. Please always consult with a professional doctor when you need vitamin recommendations.
- Practice meditation and breath work. Stress management is just as important for health as is eating a healthy diet. Holidays do tend to be stressful, so I am going to make sure to practice breathing techniques to help ease and calm stress.
Most importantly I will be trying to enjoy the holidays as much as possible. Whatever you are feeling, remember you are not alone!
If you are celebrating the holidays alone this year please make sure to connect with someone (family, friends, your yoga instructor, someone on instagram, etc.). Connection is so important during the holidays so don’t be afraid to reach out to someone.
Stay safe and healthy friends.