Updated: Dec 30, 2022
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the holiday season and all that it entails, I'm right there with you.
The stress of buying gifts, preparing meals, and keeping up with family obligations can take its toll on even the healthiest among us. But don't worry! There are ways to make sure your holidays are as healthy as they are happy.
As a health and nutrition coach, I see my clients struggle with eating healthy, movement and managing their stress during the holidays. The stress and busyness of the season can make it easy to fall into old habits, which is why I'm sharing some healthy holiday habits that can help you stay on track.
Here are 12 tips to help you stay on track while still enjoying all this season has to offer:
Table of Contents:
12 Healthy Holiday Habits You Should Try This Year
Planning is one of the best things you can do when it comes to staying healthy. Why? Because it helps you avoid unnecessary stress and prepare for situations where temptation may be more prevalent.
So if you know that you have a lot of things going on during this holiday season, schedule each activity in your calendar. And make sure you have enough time for your health and fitness routine.
Schedule your exercise time, meditation time, and even time to relax. This will help you stay on track and avoid last-minute stress.
Plan your meals ahead of time as well. If you know that you have a lot of events to attend, make sure your schedule has time for grocery shopping and meal prep.
Planning will help you avoid making unhealthy choices at the last minute.
Prepare Healthy Food
If you organize your own party or have to bring food to a social gathering, bring something that supports your goals that way you always have a go to option. This will also give your friends and family an opportunity to choose healthy options from which they can benefit from.
If you can replace some not-so-healthy ingredients with healthier ones, do it. For example, you can use coconut milk/ cream instead of heavy cream for your soups. Another option is to replace refined sugar with honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar.
For more food swap options, check out my blog on how to stay healthy during the holidays.
Eat When Your Hungry
I know it can be tempting to grab a quick bite of every food you see, but try only to eat when you’re hungry.
Instead of focusing on food, try to socialize and enjoy the company of your friends and family. This will help turn your attention away from all the food to the important social conections.
Have A Balanced Plate
A balanced plate contains nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat. You can get protein from meat, fish, poultry, or plant-based sources.
Carbohydrates come in all types of varieties, try to focus on carbs from vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains. Choose healthy fat sources like unsaturated fats like olive oil, seeds nuts and avocados.
Eat With All Your Senses
When you eat with all your senses, it makes the experience more enjoyable. You can use your eyes to see a colorful plate of food that looks appetizing. You can use your sense of smell to enjoy the aroma of your meal.
Feel the texture of your food and the warmth and comfort it brings. And of course use your sense of taste to appreciate the flavors of your meal. Listen to the quietness, the laughter, the music around you to enhance your meal experience.
Eating with all your senses can make your meal more enjoyable and is a great way to slow down and enjoy every bite of food.
Eat Until You Are 80% Full
Eating until you are 80% full helps control your eating habits. This Japanese tradition is called 'hara hachi bu' followed in Okinawa . People in this region tend to have lower rates of illnesses and longer life expectancies.
The practice is simple: stop eating before you feel full. This helps you avoid overeating and gaining weight. You can also use it as a reminder to eat slowly, savor each bite and enjoy your food.
Go For A Walk After A Big Meal
Walking after a meal promotes digestion and regulates blood sugar levels . It also helps you burn the calories you just consumed. You don’t have to go for a long walk; even a short stroll will do the trick.
Stay Hydrated (With Water, Not Alcohol)
Drinking water keeps your body hydrated and gives you an immediate energy boost. Water also helps flush out toxins and prevents constipation.
It is important to stay hydrated with water as alcohol and soda tend to be high in sugar and can actually cause more dehydration instead of hydration.
Harnessing The Power Of No
You don't have to attend every gathering you get invited to. If your schedule is already full, politely decline the invitation. You can always send a gift or note to show appreciation for the thought and consideration.
Protect your yes by utilizing your no this holiday season. It is okay to practice self care and decline an invite to drinks or say no thank you to splitting french fries. By choosing what you need (time, sleep, nutritious food, movement) you are able to show up as your best self for the parties, gatherings and holiday events you choose to attend!
Get Enough Sleep
It might be tempting to stay up late watching one more Christmas movie or having that one extra drink at the company holiday party, but getting enough sleep is so important. Know your limitations, know your why and your goals (does getting 2 hours less of sleep support your goals, will a hangover ruin tomorrow?) Pick and choose your battles and when you can prioritize sleep.
Don’t Wait For The New Year
Don’t wait for the new year to start eating healthy. Don’t wait for the new year to start exercising. Don’t wait for the new year to start being mindful of your health.
If you want to stick with a fitness routine, commit yourself now and begin making small changes to your lifestyle.
Why wait to feel more confident, to have more energy, to feel healthy? You are only one step away from starting your journey!.
If you start putting these healthy holiday habits into practice now, they will become second nature during the holidays. You'll save money, feel better and enjoy your time with friends and family.
The best part is that none of these habits are difficult or require too much effort – just a little bit of forethought and practice. So go ahead and make some changes in your life this holiday season.
And don't forget to enjoy the holidays!
About the Author
Co-Author: Irish Doton
Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.
Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!