The holidays are a great time to be with family and friends, eat great food, and make great memories. But they aren’t always compatible with a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to let go of healthy eating and exercise habits during the holidays.
The parties and stress of the holidays can have a negative effect on our well-being from November to New Year’s. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to have a healthy lifestyle all year by learning a few tricks.
Tips for Eating Smart and Staying Healthy During the Holidays
There is no denying that holiday living and healthy living are not always compatible.
Although the recipes for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas may be indulgent and decadent, they don’t have to ruin the diets we follow the rest of the year. With these tips, you will be able to maintain your mental and physical health during the holiday season.
1. Ditching Food Rules
I thought that pumpkin pie, croissant rolls, mac n’ cheese, and all the other holiday dishes I loved were “bad” because I thought they were fattening.
I used to feel like I had to overeat on special occasions, or else I would feel like I was missing out. This would often lead to me overeating to the point of sickness.
I’ve learned that there is no black-and-white when it comes to diet; there is no good or bad.
Although some foods are more nutritionally dense than others, there is no shame in wanting to eat something that is less nutritious. When we give moral value to foods, what’s meant to feed and nourish us becomes tangled with feelings of guilt.
You will have better control of your food choices if you stop worrying about holiday foods and allow yourself to eat whatever you want.
I will not limit or deprive myself this season or any other season.
I will choose the portions of food that make me feel my best and make me crave more nutritious foods. Getting rid of food rules will make it so that foods that are labeled “off-limits” are no longer as appealing.
2. Find Healthy Alternatives to your Favorite Dishes
You can still enjoy your favorite holiday foods, but they may need to be slightly altered to be healthier.
You can lighten up green bean casseroles by using less butter and bacon, lighten up devilled eggs by using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and bake the turkey instead of deep frying it. There are some simple things you can do to keep your favorite foods on your plate without all the extra calories.
3. It’s All About Moderation
Moderation is your saving grace, you will be able to get through the holiday season without any problems. It’s okay to enjoy a rich, festive meal, but make sure the rest of your meals are healthy and packed with nutrients.
Eat a salad with olive oil dressing for lunch, and have avocado on whole wheat toast for breakfast the next morning. If you want to be able to eat more during the holidays, you should consider eating healthy the rest of the time. That way, you can afford to go all out for a few big events.
4. Opt for Homemade Instead of Processed Foods
Making everything yourself can be tough when you have a lot on your plate, but it can also help you eat much healthier. You can avoid eating too much salt and sugar by making your own dishes rather than eating canned, processed, or premade foods.
You can reduce your sodium intake by making your own cream of mushroom soup, and reducing your sugar intake by making cranberry sauce from scratch. This will help you to stay healthy and avoid any negative health consequences.
If you make your own food from scratch, you will pay more attention to what you are eating and when you are eating it. This will help you have more control over your eating habits in the future.
5. Add More Vegetables
It’s easy to eat unhealthy when our favorite recipes are unhealthy, but we can improve our diets by having more healthy choices available. To make your dinner table more nutritious, include more vegetable dishes, prepared in inventive ways that don’t sacrifice health.
Roasted asparagus, carrots, and sweet potatoes make for a beautiful, delicious, and healthy meal.
If you are unsure what to serve, start with vegetables. This could be a salad before dinner or a vegetable-based appetizer earlier in the day. Making sure to get enough vegetables instead of filling up on buttery mashed potatoes will help everyone.
6. Slow Down During Meals
If you want to stay healthy during the holidays, it’s important to eat slowly.
Multiple studies have shown that when we eat slowly, our stomachs have enough time to send a hormonal signal to our brain telling us that we’re full. This will stop us from accidentally overeating. If we’re more aware of how much food we’re eating, we can better control how much we eat.
7. Remember Portion Control
During the holiday season, portion control will be your best friend. frequent small snacks throughout the day, rather than 3 large meals.
Eating slowly will improve your digestion and help you to eat less during meals and throughout the day. If you’re worried about eating too much, you can use smaller plates or serve fewer dishes at each meal.
8. Take a Walk After Dinner
There are several benefits you can get from walking after a meal. Exercising at night can help you get exercise at a time when you might not otherwise be exercising as frequently. a walk can help you relax, and also improve your digestion.
According to research, it is better to walk immediately after a meal than to wait even an hour. This will help to maximize the benefits.
9. Don’t Forgo Exercise
There are many other things to do besides working out, and it can seem even harder to workout if you’re not at your home gym. Even though it may be difficult, it is important to keep up with your exercise routine for both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Exercise is good not just for your physical health, but also your mental health. It can help reduce stress, which is especially useful during the holiday season when stress levels are high.
It doesn’t matter how much time you have, make sure to fit in some exercise even if it’s just a few minutes here and there. Get creative and take advantage of your surroundings, like doing jumping jacks on the patio or going ice skating with your family.
10. Try to Stick to Your Typical Sleep Schedule
The increased number of parties and family members in town can make this especially challenging. If you stick to your regular sleep schedule, you will sleep better now and after the holidays.
Researchers have found that people who have irregular sleep schedules often have worse sleep quality, feel more tired during the day, and may have poorer eating habits. These effects can be difficult to reverse. To avoid this, go to bed and wake up at the same time you usually do.
11. Take Time for Yourself
The holidays can be a great time to spend with family and friends, but they can also be draining and stressful. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but it’s important to remember to take time for yourself every day.
A few ideas to help you de-stress are to go for a walk, meditate once a day, or offer to go to the store for a few minutes of quiet. Even extroverts need time to recharge.
12. Get Extra Sleep
On the holidays, I can expect to get a lot of sleep. I’ve returned to my childhood bedroom and I’m wearing extremely cozy pajamas. There’s no need for me to wake up at 6:30 for work, so the conditions are ideal for a good night’s sleep.
Sleep can help me stay healthy, which is great because it’s something I get to enjoy on national holidays. There are many benefits to getting quality sleep, including improving your mood and energy.
Plus, sleep will help me make better food decisions. A lack of sleep can make cravings, especially for sugar, worse. If you’re not getting enough sleep, things like gingerbread cookies and pumpkin pie might sound a lot more appealing.
In conclusion, the holidays are a joyful time spent with family, but I am also using this time to relax and rejuvenate.
13. Moving my Body Every Day
Traditionally, I was the 60-minute-workout-class-or-nothing kind of girl. In previous years, I would stop working out whenever I was traveling or my beloved exercise studios closed for the holidays.
Now that I am older and listen to my body more, working out is not something I just check off my to-do list. Movement is a part of my daily routine.
I work out and do yoga not because I feel I need to, but because it benefits my mental and physical health. I wouldn’t want to. I like feeling like I have a place in the world that is warm and reliable.
Some days my workout might be an online class, other days a walk with my mom, or just stretching while watching a movie. I feel my best when I move my body, no matter what kind of movement it is.
14. Having Snacks Before Big Meals
Some of us have a habit of not eating much during the day on special occasions when she knew she would be eating a lot of food later. I thought that if I was really hungry, I would enjoy the meal more, but mostly I did it so that I could “spend” the calories on something else later.
If you limit the amount of food you eat, you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs to function properly. Also, if you’re hungry and your blood sugar is low, you will not be able to make decisions based on what your body really wants.
I’m going to eat two nutritious meals before the feast so I don’t get hungry or have low blood sugar later. You can always add nutrients like carrots, celery, or leafy greens to your diet before you eat less nutritious food.
15. Keeping up with a Daily Probiotic
As a health enthusiast, I have the typical amount of supplements, which take up multiple shelves. I like to put adaptogens in my coffee, and I love experimenting with Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs. I’ve never met an all-natural label that I didn’t like.
I don’t want to have to carry around a lot of pill cases and supplement bottles when I travel but, I will be packing a probiotic supplement to help me stay healthy during the holidays instead of packing anything else.
Probiotics help keep your gut healthy, and a healthy gut is connected to the brain, the immune system, and even your skin.
If you want to improve your overall health, you should focus on your gut. I find that taking a probiotic helps improve my digestion, reduces bloating, and helps with regularity. It’s worth the luggage room.
16. Practicing Intuitive Eating
Meals eaten during holidays are evidence that we don’t only eat to stay alive or because something tastes good; we eat for enjoyment, to feel connected to others, as part of a ritual, and to celebrate. I’m trying to be more mindful about my eating habits, and not just scarf down my food without thinking about it.
The best way to enjoy holiday food is to eat intuitively, which means listening to your body’s cues and stopping when you’re full. Be aware of the smells and tastes of your food, chew it thoroughly, and be grateful for the nourishment it provides (especially now, during the holiday season!).
Be mindful of how your body is feeling and stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. I always try to follow the principles of intuitive eating, but I have to be extra careful during the holidays to make sure that every meal is a meaningful, mindful experience.
17. Rethinking Traditions
The last holiday season gave us the opportunity to pause and reflect on how we’re spending our time (and who we’re spending it with), and whether it actually brings us happy or if we’re just going through the motions (looking at you, rushed holiday shopping, expensive wish lists, and overpacked schedules).
In addition to being more present for the traditions you do love and skipping the ones you don’t, try new traditions like taking a walk after dinner, baking pumpkin bread with your sister, playing in the snow, or cooking a dish that’s so good, you’ll want to bring to every future Thanksgiving.
By getting rid of outdated customs that we’ve blindly followed for years, we now have the chance to adopt new traditions that are not only good for our mental state, but good for our physical health as well.
Although it can be challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holidays, it is still possible to do so. The above tips will help you maintain your physical and mental health, so you can start the new year off strong!