There seems to be this mix of excitement and anxiety when people think of the holiday season. The excitement comes from the many friend/family gatherings, the coziness and cheerfulness the season brings and the countdown until some truly deserved rest and relaxation. Whereas, the anxiety more so comes from the stress of getting everything done on time (holiday shopping, baking, decorating etc), trying to juggle 3 get togethers or parties in one night and perhaps even the the fear of gaining weight from the festive treats the holidays bring.
This year, we’re going to do something a bit differently – you and I – because we’re in this together. We’re going to let go of fear, expectations, stress and the word “should”. Instead, we’re going to embrace balance, breathing, prioritization, simplicity and the word “no”. Why are we doing this? Because we’re not letting the holiday stress or anxiety get to us this year (and for years to come). We’re going to enjoy it for once and actually make the most of this relaxing downtime. How will we do it? With the following 5 of my top favourite tips:
Top 5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays Healthily
1.Be gentle on yourself – This is number one for a reason. This is where we let go of expectations and the “should’s” because in the end, it only stresses us out even more. Maybe you’ve committed to hosting Christmas at your place and it’s instilled a lot of anxiety in yourself. Or maybe your finances are a bit tight this year and you won’t be able to go all out on gifts for people. Whatever the situation it may be, know that it’s okay – it’s okay to back out, to say no, to delegate tasks, to ask for help, to opt for DIY gifts or to opt of Secret Santa exchanges. Be gentle on yourself and let go fear of judgement. Stay focused on what truly matters this time of year – the connecting, the laughing, the bonding.
2.Enjoy the real thing – What’s that? Is a holistic nutritionist saying you can have conventional egg nog or that non-gluten/dairy/refined sugar-free shortbread cookie? Yes – yes I am! Why? Because the stress of worrying or stressing over what you can or cannot eat is going to be far more harmful than that sip of egg nog or shortbread cookie will ever be. Coming from a former candy cane-ice cream addict, I understand the excitement of certain seasonal products. The secret here though, is being mindful and enjoying moderately. Try not to slug back that egg nog in one sip and instead, sip on it slowly so by the end of it, you actually feel satisfied and not feeling like you need another one.
3.Eat a balanced meal before the holiday gathering – This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t enjoy the offerings at the gathering or party you’re attending. It’s more so to prevent you from going balls-to-the-walls at the hors d’oeuvres table like yours truly used to. You wouldn’t want to see me in a room with a wheel of brie 5 years ago – trust me. By ensuring we have a balanced meal filled with healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates, we can save ourselves from being hangry throughout the night and feeling in control when the festive treats catch our eye. It also helps us to stay true to our routine dietary habits which will keep things like nutrient deficiencies and the potential of getting sick at bay.
4.Stay hydrated – This probably seems like the oldest dietary tip in the book by now, but to be terribly honest, it would be gone by now if we were all abiding by it! Even I struggle with this from time to time depending on the environment I’m in – when I was a nutrition student, I was so good about constantly refilling my water bottle all the time, sipping constantly and filling it back up when it was finished. But now that my days vary from working at the clinic, working from home, going to meetings or corporate talks, it’s a bit more challenging. Needless to stay, staying hydrated during the holidays is going to save us from the inevitable hangover, headaches, feeling lethargic or from overeating. Did you know that a lot of the time, when you have an urge to snack, you might actually just be thirsty? Here’s another one for you – we already know that alcoholic drinks dehydrate us, but did you know for things like coffee or tea, we have to drink 2 cups of water to make up for 1 cup of each? True story!
5.Make your own healthy festive treats – I love this alternative, but yet so many people shy away from it in fear of the isolation or perceived judgement they may receive from a crowd when they show up with gluten-free/non-traditional ginger molasses cookies. My favourite part of this though is showing others how delicious these healthy alternatives can be and how we don’t have to suffer from the ill effects of a sugar coma, food hangover or bloating when we eat them. I encourage you to have fun with this, whether it’s a dish you’re bringing to a holiday potluck or whether it’s just for you at home – experiment with these healthy alternatives and discover how good you can feel -sans-guilt and sans-scary ingredients! I’ve been having loads of fun thinking up fun healthy holiday beverages this year and was blown away after I created this Dairy-Free Vegan Egg Nog Recipe.If healthy festive beverages are your thing, you’ll love this recipe!
What are your best kept tips for staying healthy over the holidays?