A healthy holiday season may a challenge for many of us. The holiday season kicks off on the fourth Thursday of November each year and continues all the way up through January 1st. This year there are 38 days in between Thanksgiving and New Years and for those of us who may be trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and follow healthy habits this is a long stretch of time. Not only are the holidays filled with occasions where food is the centerpiece, but it can also be a time of great stress and pressure which can make having a healthy holiday more challenging.
What can you do to stay on track this holiday season and enter the New Year without destroying all the good habits you’ve managed to integrate into your life? Here are some ideas to consider and that I plan to implement over the next few weeks.
First and foremost, allow yourself to enjoy the celebrations that involve food. It’s ok to enjoy a good meal and to eat things that you would normally avoid. Decide which occasions and foods you enjoy the most and allow yourself to indulge. One day isn’t going to ruin your new habits or cause to gain back the five pounds you’ve worked so hard to lose.
Be conscious of your choices
Focus on the pleasure of each bite of your favorite foods during the holidays and remember why you enjoy them. Often our enjoyment of these foods comes not only from the flavors, but also from the memories of previous holiday times with friends and family. By practicing some mindfulness when eating, you will fully enjoy all that is involved in the experience.
Eat healthy in between
On the days without special events, focus on making your meals healthier. If you have a big dinner event on a specific day, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch that day.
Eat your veggies
Especially if you are trying to watch your weight, this practice helps you avoid overeating. Also, vegetables are full of all kinds of nutrients such as antioxidants and fiber which benefit your body. When filling up your plate, make half of it vegetables, but watch out for high calorie bombs like Squash Casserole or other dishes which should be eaten in small amounts. Your best bet here are vegetables cooked simply without a lot of added toppings.
Manage your stress
Having a healthy holiday is more than just what you eat but how you think and feel as well. The holidays can be super stressful as you try to squeeze everything in. Between work, shopping, decorating, social obligations…it can be a lot to handle. First, remember that you don’t have to do everything and exercise your right to just say no to some social engagements. Also, be sure to make time for yourself. Take the time out to meditate or just get quiet. Schedule a massage or treat yourself to a spa treatment. Self-care is important during the holidays so don’t forget to pay attention to your needs.
Practice gratitude this holiday season
This idea is a new one for me and one that I have been working on trying to put into practice. Practicing daily gratitude helps you focus on what is good in your life instead of the negative. In doing this, we create a healthier and happier mindset each day which will helps in balancing and supporting other healthy habits. It may also help you experience a happy holiday season.
Exercise and Activity
Make time for exercise and movement as well. Getting up and moving your body improves mood, maintains metabolism and helps to counteract overindulgences.
Have fun and enjoy
The holidays are a time we get to spend time with our loved ones and friends, celebrating life and love. So, remember to take time out to laugh and just have fun. I promise, it will make you feel better.
I hope you will join me in putting some of these ideas and habits into practice over the next few weeks. Enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.