Oh, the holidays—the home-cooked meals, recipes and traditions that have been passed down for generations, parties, cocktails, dinners with friends, thoughtful gifts, relaxing with family, running around checking things off your to-do list, glistening snow, twinkling lights, and treats, lots of treats! Staying healthy during the busy holiday season can seem daunting, but if you follow these simple suggestions it’s as easy as a slice of homemade apple pie.
Be Mindful. Chew your food slowly—savor each and every bite. Try putting your utensil down in between bites. Instead of filling your belly to the brim, eat only until you are 80% full and leave the other 20% free to let your body digest your food properly. Use your senses—see, smell, taste, and touch your food. Listen to what your body is telling you—Are you hungry? Are you full? How does that food make you feel? You’ll feel better when tuning into your body!
Practice Self Care. Be kind to yourself. If you do overeat, don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day. Just start over. Reset your body by beginning each day with a warm glass of water with lemon or a green juice.
Incorporate Movement. Incorporate movement into your life, at least 3-5 times a week. Do whatever works for you—jogging, walking, yoga, or a community fitness class. Try taking a nature walk and pay close attention to your surroundings—listen to the sounds of the leaves crunching beneath your feet, hear the birds chatting to each other, and breathe in the crisp winter air.
Breathe. Be mindful of your breath. If you feel you are about to over indulge or are prone to emotional eating, try this simple breathing technique. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale through pursed lips for a count of 8. Do this anytime you’re feeling anxious or need to re-center.
Bring a healthy dish to share. Eating before you go to parties doesn’t always work and it’s nice to be able to partake in the festivities with others. If you bring a healthy dish to share, you can load your plate up with that and, of course, leave a little room for indulgences.
Eat whole foods and lots of greens! Throughout the holidays, be sure to fill up on veggies and proteins first. They will keep you satisfied for longer, and will lead to less cravings down the road. Try to include greens in at least two meals throughout the day and your body will thank you for it!
Drink water! Staying hydrated is so important. Dehydration can often present itself in the form of cravings. Try drinking a glass or two of water when a craving hits, and if you are still hungry after that, go ahead and eat. If you decide to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, do so in moderation and make sure you are drinking plenty of water along with it.
Connect with others. Rather than obsessing over which foods you are or are not going to eat, allow making connections with others be your focus. Be intentional. Ask for stories. Share about what’s going on in each of your lives. Enjoy spending time with loved ones.
Be grateful and joyful. Marianne Williamson said it well, “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” Gratefulness and joy are interconnected. When you actively practice gratitude, you can’t help but be joyful for all of the little victories, wonderful people, and grace in your life.
Give to others. Giving is good for your health. Think of your gift as more than a $20 bill, think of what that money will become—a warm blanket for a baby, a toy for a child, a chicken to supply a family with eggs, or clean water to quench a mother’s thirst. Practicing compassion and selflessness helps you to feel connected to others and gives your life an added sense of purpose and meaning.