10 tips for a healthy holiday season
About the Author
Emilie Delworth is a holistic nutritionist at Elevate Wellness Center in South Lake Tahoe. To schedule or for further questions, call us at 530-541 9355. Visit www.elevate-wellness.com for more information.
For some, the holidays are a time to relax and enjoy time with friends and family.
For others, it is a stressful time, plagued by financial worries, having to deal with annoying uncle Larry, planning trips, and for many, the worry of maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle amongst so many tempting foods.
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are typically associated with decadent dishes: Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, latkes, matzo ball soup, pumpkin or apple pie, and more. These holidays are renowned for overeating and experiencing “food comas.”
The assumption is that health and holidays cannot go hand-in-hand, and those who live healthy lives the rest of the year often throw caution to the wind for these couple of months. But does it have to be this way?
Is a happy, healthy, holiday season possible?
It is absolutely possible to enjoy favorite seasonal foods, indulge in holiday treats and still maintain balanced habits.
Here are 10 tips to help you enjoy your holiday season without feeling deprived:
1. Moderation is key: Be mindful of your portion sizes. Start with small servings and if you’re still hungry, have seconds. If you want to indulge in desserts, choose one rather than trying them all.
2. Eat slowly and chew your food: One of the most common issues I run into with my clients who struggle with digestive issues is that they eat way too fast and don’t chew their food properly. Chew your food into a paste. Eat slowly and really savor each bite. When we eat slower, we allow our brain to catch up to our stomach and realize we don’t need as much food to feel satiated as we think we do when rushing through a meal.
3. Purposeful movement: The body is meant to move. You don’t have to “work out” to stay active. Purposeful movement is movement we do in our every day lives. Park farther away from the store and get some extra steps in. Encourage the family to get outside for a quick game of touch football during the halftime show.
4. Add more vegetables: The autumn season brings so many yummy vegetables that can easily be incorporated into a classic side dish, or try a new veggie main this season.
5. Homecooked over processed and packaged: Opt for homemade over store bought. Bake your pumpkin pie from scratch. Make your own cranberry sauce. You have better control over the quality of the ingredients used, and you avoid preservatives.
6. Modify classic recipes: Whether you’re gluten free, paleo or just aiming for healthier ingredients, the internet is filled with tons of modifications and alternatives for pretty much all of your favorite recipes.
7. Don’t skip meals: People often miss breakfast or lunch in hopes of leaving space for the big dinner. Unfortunately, this just isn’t how our body works. It can lead to insulin spikes, and resultant energy crashes. Skipping meals also makes us much more likely to binge eat once dinner comes. This is too overwhelming for the liver. You can still enjoy all of the delicious food once dinner is served if you follow tips 1 and 2.
8. Stay hydrated: This helps ensure healthy energy levels and a balanced mood. That eggnog and hard apple cider can be quite dehydrating, even in moderation.
9. Stress Management: Engage in relaxing activities that help counteract stress. Breathing exercises, taking a hot bath, going for a walk, doing yoga, and reading a good book, are all great ways to counteract the holiday anxiety.
10. Sleep: It’s a busy time of year, I know. But sleep is important for processing our day’s activity and regenerating our cells. If you want to be super mom or an excellent host, you’re going to need your sleep.
Bonus tip: Honoring the spirit of the season.
Maintaining a balanced, healthy life may not be easy, especially amongst family and friends who don’t value health in the way that you do, but it is not impossible. So often we forget the spirit of the season and engage in what we now know as classic indulgent behaviors. But the holidays are about so much more than receiving gifts and eating in excess.
Remember and honor the spirit of each holiday that you celebrate. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are times to honor our ancestors: their sufferings, sacrifices and achievements. It is a season to appreciate our freedoms, and who and what we have. They are a time of banding together to provide for the less fortunate.
I find it less difficult to engage in unhealthy, indulgent behaviors when mindful of the meaning behind holiday gatherings and traditions.
Stay tuned for some new healthy holiday recipes to try!
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