For some, the start of the holiday season may signal a cycle of indulgence and unfortunately, guilt. Many wait until Jan. 1 to begin working toward the promise of a new year and a new self, making resolutions that will likely fizzle out before Valentine’s Day.
Until then, the seemingly endless amounts of cocktails, coffee, and sugary treats are all just leading up to the distant future when it will suddenly “be the day” to join a gym, change every habit and lose those stubborn few pounds.
But wait, why does it have to be that way?
In fact, it doesn’t.
With a few healthy tips for the holidays and with the right mindset, anyone can achieve it.
Healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing good food or quality time with friends and family or giving up things. Although a common misconception, being healthy really means finding a balance that works for you and learning to understand your body’s cues better than anyone else.
There is no one cure-all diet that is going to magically make your life better beginning in January. You must find strength, willpower, and motivation within yourself to make changes in the right direction that will have you looking and feeling your best.
So this holiday season, as you reflect on the past year and look ahead to what’s in store next year, consider incorporating some of these easy, healthy tips for the holidays to have a happier, healthier season.
Here are 10 healthy tips for the holidays.
Eat a balanced breakfast. Start the day off right by fueling with a healthy breakfast. Incorporate healthy fats, protein and starchy carbs for a balanced meal that will keep you full and fueled for your busy holiday activities. Consider enjoying 2-3 eggs cooked in ghee or grass-fed butter, 1-2 cups of sautéed veggies, a handful of berries and a small sweet potato for a satisfying, healthy and delicious meal.
Make sleep a priority. While traveling and late-night get-togethers can easily throw your sleep schedule off, commit to making sleep a top priority. When you’re well-rested you will be much less susceptible to the cold going around the office, and more easily able to enjoy the holiday festivities. Invest in your sleep hygiene – a variety of practices that help you have a restful night — such as blackout curtains, an eye mask, earplugs, and a fan or other white noise machine.
Bring your favorite healthy dish to a potluck. Between work gatherings and parties with friends and family, there will be plenty of excuses to contribute your favorite healthy dish or cook up something new. Whether you’re hosting a gathering or attending an event, offer to contribute a salad, side dish or dessert to ensure something healthy is available. This is particularly important if you have dietary restrictions or food allergies and aren’t sure the host can accommodate.
Incorporate probiotic-rich food daily. Study after study continues to confirm the importance of the gut-brain connection. To keep your physical and mental health in check, it’s important to provide your system with plenty of healthy bacteria found in probiotic-rich foods such as kombucha, raw sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi. When selecting a product, make sure to double check the nutrition label and ingredients list to avoid added sugars when possible and opt for organic options when available to ensure the highest quality.
Keep a food journal. With everything else going on this time of year, you might be wondering why now is the best time to start a food journal. Research shows that when you write down/record your daily food intake, you’re much more likely to stick to your goals and stay on track. It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable to indulge without going overboard, and will also help you pinpoint if any specific foods may be causing you unpleasant side effects, such as headaches or stomach pain so you can be sure to avoid those.
Make time to work out. The end of the year often leaves people putting off goals and instead wait until New Year’s to get started, but why wait? Whether you’re in the habit of working out or not, make time to fit it in this holiday season. You’ll feel better, have more energy and will likely even make better choices at the dinner table because of it. For body weight and on-the-go workout inspiration, check out fitness gurus PaleOMG and Fed + Fit.
Drink more water. Most people will indulge in extra alcoholic drinks, caffeine, and sugary foods during the holidays, and possibly overlook the simplest way to keep their bodies healthy — water. Although intake will fluctuate for each individual based on activity level and health, the general guideline is to aim for half of your bodyweight in ounces of water. On top of that, add 8-12 ounces of water for each serving of coffee, alcohol, tea or fruit juice consumed. Staying hydrated will help you avoid any unpleasant symptoms of dehydration such as headaches, joint pain or fatigue.
Bring travel snacks. Travel with snacks everywhere you go to avoid grabbing a candy bar or last minute bag of chips when hunger strikes. Search for protein-packed options without added sugars such as RXBARS, raw almonds, grass-fed beef jerky, or nut butter packets at your local grocery store or online at Amazon or Thrive Market. Fresh veggies and fruits are also great to have handy and are easy to transport.
Have plenty of stress relief techniques handy. The holidays can be a stressful time between work and family demands, and the number one way to stay healthy is to appropriately manage stress. Whether it’s spending a few minutes each day journaling, enjoying an evening cup of herbal tea or fitting in a yoga session, make your health a top priority. By reducing your stress levels you and those around you will enjoy the season and make happy, lasting memories.
Enjoy yourself! Last but not least, make sure to have fun. While the holidays can be a stressful time fitting in one too many commitments, scrambling for last minute holiday gifts at the mall or overdoing it on Grandma’s cookies, take a moment to soak it all in and enjoy it. If you actively plan ahead and keep your fitness, food, sleep and stress levels balanced throughout the season, you can stay healthy, enjoy the festivities and set yourself up for a successful and happy new year.