The holidays are rapidly approaching!
Many of us are lucky to have an abundance of food, and temptations are everywhere. This is the moment when anxiety sets in because diets are difficult to follow. Sweets, rich goodies, and overeating are common indulgences this time of year, and guilt becomes a common experience. (Not to mention indigestion, heartburn, sluggishness, gas, and a host of other issues!)
As you find yourself surrounded by temptation, it’s not unusual to begin to wonder, “Is it even possible to have healthy holidays?”
Forbidding yourself from eating certain foods is sure to fail, as is resisting temptation for a second helping of your favorite dish, so what are you to do?
Here are 10 tips to help you stay on track and feel great throughout the holidays:
1. Go for a walk before each big meal. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to keep your body moving throughout the holidays. Even if you are visiting family, are far away from your gym, or your routine is messed up and your motivation is lacking, make it a priority to bundle up and get outside. Going for a brisk 20+ minute walk at least once a day will keep your circulation moving, your metabolism up, and keep you feeling great. If your family is getting stressful this is a great opportunity to gain some clarity and time for yourself, or alternately you can take someone with you and enjoy quality time together.
2. Take small helpings, and forgo getting thirds I don’t know about you, but no matter how much I’ve eaten I always have to get a second helping. To avoid eating past your limit, take less of what you want to begin with so you have room for seconds, but hold-off on getting thirds and don’t forget to save room for dessert! This will satisfy your urge to be gluttonous without pushing you too far past your limit.
3. Fill your plate with a variety of food, mostly colorful vegetables. Instead of gorging yourself on turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, aim to have about 2/3rds of your plate filled with colorful savory vegetables like Brussel-sprouts, squash, green-beans, and beets. This way you won’t feel deprived of your favorite dishes and you’ll know that you are getting many beneficial nutrients.
4. Be mindful and grateful while you eat. Focusing on the way your food looks, smells, tastes, and feels in your mouth as you chew will allow you to truly enjoy the food you are eating so your cravings will be satisfied. Paying attention to your food as you eat will also slow down your consumption so you can enjoy it for longer, eat just the right amount, and digest better.
5. Don’t starve yourself before big meals. Eating regular smaller meals beforehand will keep your metabolism steady and prevent you from overeating due to starvation. You’ll also be able to more fully enjoy the flavors of the food when you’re not in survival mode from deprivation.
6. Drink at least one full glass of water between every other beverage you consume. This will ensure that you are hydrated and that you don’t consume too many excess calories from alcoholic or sweet beverages.
7. Eat Bitter. We enjoy many flavors during our holiday meals, but the one very important flavor that is lacking in our diets is bitter. Bitter foods like raddichio, burdock, chickory, and dandelion greens help kick-start your digestive juices so your GI tract is more ready to handle what you’re going to consume. If you don’t want to eat bitters there are also many herbal products out there to help you digest. Dandelion, burdock, angelica, and fennel-seed tinctures are good options, or you can buy delicious pre-made bitters from companies such as urban moonshine. Just take two dropper-fulls 30 minutes before a meal and you’re ready to go!
8. Laugh. A lot. Laughter can burn a lot of calories and strengthen stomach muscles. Also, you’ll feel great with the endorphins that kick in from a good hearty chuckle, and you’ll bring joy to those around you if you can stay lighthearted when unnecessary stress sets in. Lastly, if you are feeling happy you will be less likely to seek out comfort from food because it will be bursting from within you! If you don’t feel like laughing, at least smile whenever you can. Sometimes we have to smile first and the emotions follow afterward.
9. Eat the more nutritious dessert options. There are many desserts available this time of year, but some choices are better than others. It is wise to eat less of the flour-y sugar-y desserts and instead enjoy more of the ones that are made with some kind of live food, like sweet-potatoes with maple-syrup or pumpkin-pie. You don’t have to cut out the cookies altogether, but aim to enjoy the more nutritious alternatives about 80% the time you do decide to indulge.
10. If you feel a sniffle coming on, take measures to combat it before it takes hold. Elderberry syrup, ginger tea, and very hot showers are great ways to build up a sweat, expel toxins, and thereby support your immune system when it is starting to fight off a cold or flu. The wet-sock treatment is also a fail-proof option when you are starting to feel run down. And of course plenty of rest!
May your celebrations be relaxing, joyful, healthy, and abundant!