How To Enjoy Health & Holiday Spirit This Season

Ah, the holidays! Trimming trees, decking the halls, shopping ’til you drop and traveling home for Christmas. With social engagements and soirees galore, time flies during the holiday season – a mere four to six weeks depending on how you slice it – and there’s never enough time to get it all done, let alone take care of yourself, so you can be your merriest! Sleep, exercise and eating healthy take a backseat like your narcoleptic uncle at the kids’ Holiday nativity play.

What if you could stay on-track this holiday, enjoy without going off the rails, and skip the crash dieting come January 1st?

Try a few of these hacks to keep your health and your holiday spirit intact this season!

Holiday Health Hacks

Eat before you go out.

Think about what happens when you arrive in front of food when you’re famished.

You eat everything.

You naturally gravitate towards the most satisfying. It’s biology; your brain seeks out the fastest energy, which likely equates to the most calorie-dense, least nutritious options. Pies, cookies and casseroles are way too enticing to pass up at that point. Now consider that it takes your brain about 20 minutes to recognize you’re full (even longer if you’re at all sleep deficient). By that time, you’ve had a second plate and are feeling pangs of guilt and acid reflux!

To prevent overindulging, have a snack or light meal before you show up. Keep snacks at work or in your car to ensure you have options available.

Bring your own healthy snacks, sides, desserts and cocktails with you when you can. 

Arriving with gluten free goods, colorful steamed veggies, a bottle of champagne or your favorite salad in tow ensures a few healthy options that you’ll enjoy are among those available at the party.

What host or hostess ever turned down contributions to the tablescape?

Eat your last meal three hours before bedtime. 

Giving your body time to digest and burn through that last meal aids in sleep, cellular repair and weight management. If your body’s resources are devoted to digesting your food, you miss out on the other important functions that take place during this critical time, like removal of waste in the brain, storing of memories and information and detoxification.

Get enough sleep!

During the holidays (or any peak season), you’re managing more responsibilities, expectations, demands on your time and energy, let alone traveling. You’re going to be stretched more thinly and more depleted.

Be sure to get enough sleep! Listen to your body for signs you need more Zzzz’s, like sugar cravings, lower tolerances for annoyances and stress, munchies, reduced control of your emotions (quicker to yell or cry than normal).

Take care of yourself! If you have any questions on how to navigate healthy habits this Holiday, drop us a line below, and feel free to share this article with your friends and family who need helpful hints, too!

Cheers to your health and happiness this Holiday and all year!

Five Healthy Holiday Tips

Collage of table scapes for Chinese New Year Feast, Hanukkah Feast, Christmas Feast and Kwanzaa Feast

 

We are officially in the swing of the Holiday Season!! This magical time of year brings so many opportunities for us to reconnect with ourselves, our friends, our families, and our traditions. (All of which are rich with complexity and emotion…and usually also desserts 🙂 )

Here are a few tips to help you not only survive the holidays, but also thrive during this time of year, so you can both take care of yourself and enjoy the wonder and whimsy of the season.

Stick to the Basics.
Throughout the Holidays, these year-round basics will be your best allies:

  • Pack in the greens and unprocessed, whole foods as much as you can, for instance:
    • When you’re invited to a party, bring a veggie (or even raw veggies with dip) as your dish to pass to ensure that you’ll have healthy options at your finger tips
    • Plan ahead and stock up on healthy snacks at home, so you’re not reliant on cookies and leftover pie for snacks when you get hungry
    • Fun fact: the best way to guarantee you’ll crave something tomorrow is by eating it today; if you eat less sugar and more veggies today, you’ll work with your natural wiring to prevent off-the-rails sugar cravings the next day and the next…
  • Drink plenty of water, i.e. one glass every hour if not more; when attending a party, alternate a glass of water with every sugary or alcoholic beverage, which will give you the added benefit of something to occupy your hands while also preventing a hangover
  • Exercise 20-30 minutes each day; even a 15 minute walk a few times throughout the day makes a difference for your mental and physical well-being
  • Get enough rest; when we’re rested, our willpower, patience and energy levels are significantly higher, which means better decisions and more equilibrium and energy to navigate the jam-packed social calendar!
  • Meditate or practice positive visualizations and/or affirmations five minutes a day

Be Mindful.
Very important is to be aware of what you’re eating, how full you are and why you’re reaching for seconds. Often times, we choose to feed our feelings instead of to satisfy our physical hunger. Being mindful of our choices and the reasons behind them will help us outsmart the autopilot eating that is easy to slip into when we’re having fun (or not) and surrounded by food and friends!
Quick tip: If you find yourself on emotional overload, try 4-7-8 breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Do this about five times whenever you feel the stress or anxiety (or any emotional trigger) overwhelming you.

Make time for yourself.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the Holiday – the planning, the parties, the presents – and the allure of saying yes to it all! Families, friends, work, and school activities are abundant, and whether out of obligation or delight, we will say yes… and yes, and yes.  In doing so, we get thrown out of whack and worn out. Make sure you keep your overall well-being in mind as you schedule your fun and festivities.

Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your equilibrium:

  • Schedule your workouts on your calendar, so you can blow off steam and get those natural endorphins to keep you energized
  • Say no to social engagements if it’s too much (or simply leave early, so you can get enough rest)
  • Schedule time with friends who lift you up and nourish your soul (you know the ones)
  • Put quiet time on the calendar, such as reserving a few nights for doing absolutely nothing
  • Take a nap on a Saturday afternoon
  • Have a “wrapping party” to allow you and friends to catch up as you wrap gifts or a cookie swap where the cookies baked can be given as goodies for co-workers or teachers (time with friends AND gifts for folks on your list sounds like a win-win!)
  • Give yourself permission to ask for help and/or delegate; for instance, if you’re having a party, prioritize your to-do list and enlist family to help or hire someone to help clean before or after, ask friends to bring a dish to share or help clean-up afterwards, etc.

Whatever helps you maintain your sense of self and balance this time of year is a MUST.
Spoiler alert: it may vary day-to-day, and it may not look the same as what your friend, sister, mom or significant other needs, and that’s OK. Taking the time to make time for yourself and your mental, emotional and spiritual health this time of year will reap enormous benefits!

Eat the pie. Then let it go.
It’s OK to indulge, especially if you’re keeping the other 80% of your food and drinks on the lighter side. One powerful trick to minimizing the impact on your overall health (and waistline) is letting go of any guilt your carry for indulging in a slice of pie (or two), and then resetting to “normal” eating habits. Remember that there are hidden calories and sugar in holiday libations and dishes. Swap in water or herbal tea where possible, and if you do indulge at that office party, overindex on clean eating for your other meals that day and a few days after.

Enjoy!
Most important of all… Enjoy the moments, the meals, the memories of this Season! Savor each bite and every experience because this year’s Holiday season is different than all those that have come before and all those to come. Soak it in. Even if you eat too much, have an emotional breakdown, or don’t get it all done before your family or guests show up, it’s OK. It truly is OK. Breathe. Speak kindly to yourself, and give yourself grace. ‘Tis the season after all. Take advantage of the joy and generosity of this time of year. Live in the moment. Say yes when you feel it, and say no when you feel called to. Take care of yourself and those you love and enjoy!

Peace, Love, and Happy Holidays!