A Healthier Approach to the Holidays

Holiday Season, Family

The holidays are a time for celebrations, spending time with family and friends, reflecting on the year and what we’d like moving forward into the new year. But the holidays can also be stressful and fraught with challenges, never mind the struggle of navigating this time safely during the continued pandemic. 

A common story line when I’m meeting with patients is that the hard work they’ve spent on improving their food choices, increasing movement and decreasing stress tends to start falling apart by the end of November and is completely lost by Christmas. The reality is the sugar fest and crazier schedules often begin in October with all things pumpkin spice and Halloween candy, becoming a downward spiral from there. Here’s a different approach that allows you to enjoy the holidays without guilt but also hopefully have an increased sense of health and balance that you can take into the new year!

Food: 

Enjoy yourself during those holiday dinners and get togethers BUT pay close attention to your choices all of the other days of the week. There should be plenty of days for you to make healthier choices!  Here are some simple tips on how to make that happen: 

  • Add extra veggies into each meal. The goal is 5-6 servings every day!
  • Say no to sugar during the week even if this means hiding the leftover Halloween candy from yourself and sharing the holiday baking with the neighbors! 
  • No alcohol during the week. Save a glass or two for the weekend or when you’re at a holiday gathering but find other ways to wind down during the week. 
  • Meal plan and prep for the week. Trying to figure out dinner after being worn out at the end of a long day can be a perfect formula for not-so-great food choices if you don’t already have a plan in place. 

Movement: 

Make it a priority to do something EVERY day. This might be a workout but also could be a walk in your neighborhood or stretching while watching your favorite show. 

If you don’t already have a routine or find yourself short on time, commit to 10 minutes a day. If you’re struggling with making it happen, get an accountability partner!

Stress management:

This is critical for your mental health but is also HUGE in your ability to make healthy choices in regards to food and movement. The higher your stress, the easier it is for everything to fall apart. 

  • Keep moving, (see above). Movement is one of the most perfect stress managers and mood enhancers!
  • Start a meditation habit. Set aside 5-10 minutes a day. It’s a life changer for how you respond to stress on a day-to-day basis. 
  • Learn to say NO! It’s much too easy to get over scheduled this time of year. Even when fun, this equals more stress which often equals poor choices. 

Here’s to a healthier holiday season and I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way!