Maybe you’ve already written off the holiday season as unavoidably cataclysmic for your health and weight. And, true, ’tis the season to be jolly, so it can be more difficult to stay on the health boat and not gain an entire jean size.
But it is not impossible.
Follow these healthy holiday tips, and you’ll be deckin’ the halls with verve and vim, instead of torpor and indigestion.
Fresh, pure water is your best friend in general, but especially during the holidays since our digestion can take a major blow due to the rich food and alcoholic beverages. You need to make sure you’re properly flushing your system every day, so as not to end up in a food coma.
Keep active. This changes everything. Even just a quick, lively walk after a meal can aid in digestion, and the fresh air exercise will make you feel so much lighter and balanced. Don’t discount the amazing effects of even just ten minutes.
Though, if you really want to keep fit as a fiddle through the holidays, you must prioritize some yummy workouts, too. Schedule in a yoga/spinning/kick-boxing class or a jog as often as possible. This the real antidote to all the rich food and overindulging. Remember, the more you sweat, the more you’ll be detoxing. (You want that.) And, hey, why not invite cousin Myrtle that you haven’t seen in a while to join you in some vinyasas? Feed two birds with one scone.
Worried about what sweet and creamy heavy-heavies await you at Susan and Robert’s annual New Years Shindig? Bring a dish with you. When you bring a healthy dish to a soirée, not only are you assured of having something suitable and delish to eat, but you’ll also be sharing the wealth with other party go-ers who will certainly rejoice at the sight of your Almond Avocado Dip or hummus, after having overdosed on the mini egg rolls. (Other ideas: fresh juice, GF Chocolate Ganache Thumbprint Cookies, or a simple quinoa salad.)
Not right now. Keep reading. But, do pause before meals. Yes, it sounds almost too simple, but trust me, it’s powerful. Each time you sit down to eat, take a moment to be grateful that you have something to eat (fact: many people don’t…) maybe that means saying a little prayer, or maybe it’s just a cognizance of all the nutrients about to enter your bloodstream, either way and regardless of whom you thank for your bounty (God, the Universe, your lucky stars), this “pause” is going to a) slow you down, and b) keep you from engorging in holiday haste. Take your time. Savor. Enjoy.
This goes hand and hand with number 4. Here’s the thing: proper digestion starts in the mouth, so help out your small and large intestines by chewing your food well and slowly. Take your time, and appreciate all the different flavors and textures. This will keep you from overeating, and generally heighten your gastronomic experience.
As we stated before, most holiday get-together menus don’t have your health goals in mind… so if you don’t have time to make and bring a healthy dish with you to a soirée, have a wee snack beforehand. In doing so, you can be assured that you’re not going to arrive famished at the party, which always causes caloric disasters. Instead of pouncing on the cream-filled petit-fours, you’ll be more prepared to make mindful decisions about what you really want, and you’ll feel more fit and fantastic as you chat up Mr. Handsome in the Red Pants knowing that you had a green smoothie just before coming. (Other great pre-party snacks include: fruit, nuts, an avocado on rye toast…)
Fortunately, you are the king of your castle. Meaning: no one dictates what you put in your mouth, except for you. This time of year is the perfect moment to practice your “No, thanks” skills. Aunt Josephine’s famous fruitcake? You’re allowed to decline. Another piece of jello-wobble? You can say “Maybe later.” Here are some phrase suggestions to get you out of awkward politeness qualms:
“Oh, wow! Thanks, but I just need a bit of water at the moment” Run off. “Oh, that looks so good, but I need to digest a bit before I eat anything else. Thanks so much. Maybe I’ll come find you later.” Escape. “Oh, you know what? I’m currently doing an experiment where I’m avoiding (fruitcake/fudge/gluten/sugar), so I think I’ll just have a clementine.” Bottom line – risking slight offense by refusing something rich you don’t really want, is way worth it for your peace of mind, tummy homeostasis, and an act of, dare I say it, self love.
It’s like when you pack a suitcase – they always say pack it, and then remove half. Except in terms of holiday meals, you have to think ahead. Remember: you can always have more, but if you take too much to begin with, it puts you in a tricky position. Besides, this way you’ll actually have room to have a slice of the fudge cake.
Breakfast is usually all yours to devise. So since you have total control, make it your “for sure” healthy meal. Pack in the greens first thing in the morning and not only will you feel energized for your day, but it’s also going to re-alkalinize you and start your day off on the right foot. (6 reasons greens are your best friend.)
Herbal teas are an underappreciated wonder. Especially ginger and dandelion root teas. Drinking ginger tea is a wonderful way to calm your stomach, and is super beneficial for digestion, and dandelion root tea helps rid your body of excess water. This is important because during the holidays we sometimes consume more salty food which causes major water retention in the body.
This is, naturally, advice for life, but especially during the holidays when we may be inclined to buy certain products without thinking because they’re “tradition” or marketed as such. Do not be fooled by the massive food corporations! Read every label. Most traditional foods and ingredients can be found at your local organic store sans the high-fructose corn syrup or long unpronounceable ingredients. And it’s not innocuous – weird chemical ingredients contribute to obesity, lethargy, and don’t fill us up like real foods, making us want to eat more more more. Be savvy. Take responsibility for what you feed yourself and your family.
Find a way to give to families in need. As you know, everyone wins when we share. You’ll be filled to the brim with feel-good feelings, and the recipients will not only enjoy a better holiday, but will be grateful to know that they are not forgotten.
Getting quality sleep will not only improve your digestion, mood, metabolism, and joviality, but it will also avoid the “eating because you’re exhausted instead of hungry” thing. (10 Ways to Become a Champion Sleeper.)
Escaping the din and commotion of festivities by taking a some time to take a leisurely bath, to write, meditate, or go on a walk alone can be extremely relaxing and re-energizing. During the holidays we are often surrounded by people, and though we love most of them, the intensity can really zap us of our energy. Take a time out from time to time to take care of you.
Don’t deprive yourself of your mom’s delicious pie. Abstaining from something you love but think you “shouldn’t have,” usually causes major cognitive dissonance and, quite frankly, frustration. That being said, be reasonable with portion size, and choose wisely. Only delight in dishes that truly delight you. Don’t waste your calories on “meh” stuff – choose your battles. We can certainly learn from the French here, guilt doesn’t serve you. Own your indulgences, fais-toi plaisir.
Do you have some tried and true tips for sailing through the holidays with health and aplomb? Share them below in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Here’s to merry jingling, and healthy mingling,