How I Keep the Holidays Healthy (And You Can Too!)
There is so much to look forward to this time of year such as seeing family, gift giving, and preparing treats (and eating said treats).
But there are a lot of terrible things about the holiday season.
Many of us overindulge on food that leads us towards disease vs optimal wellness. And we push ourselves to the limit with the preparation for the holidays such as shopping, wrapping, cooking and baking!
We do all of this while still maintaining our work schedule and taking care of our families. To say the holidays contribute to our stress load is an understatement.
However, we can emerge healthier and more refreshed into the new year if we are smart during the holidays. I'm going to share with you how every year I'm the same weight come January, I don't feel drained, and stress load is unaffected.
Some of this might make me sound like a Scrooge. But, these practices keep me balanced, allow me to be myself, and enable me to spread joy to others. And they can do the same for you!
I SIMPLIFY the season and utilize the word ‘No’
I get that we want to do a lot to make this time of year special (especially for kids), but you don't have to go nuts buying more decorations, buying and making gifts for everyone you know, or slaving away in the kitchen... Baking cookies for the neighbors, your mail carrier, pies for this event, rumballs for that event-- you don't have to commit to it all.
Choose the few holiday rituals you hold sacred and involve the ones closest to you. For me, the hubby and I love putting on Christmas music, drinking a holiday beverage of sorts, and decorating the tree together (he especially loves this because he's of a Jewish background and didn't grow up with it).
Online shopping vs shopping in stores has been one of the BEST saving graces for me in this day and age. Busy stores are not my cup of tea.
Commit to what you feel you can handle while keeping your sanity. 'No' is always an acceptable answer without having to explain yourself for turning down a party or opting out of bringing baked goods.
For the neighbors or postal worker, a nice card with a personal note showing you remember something about them or are grateful for them for a special reason... that can mean more than baked goods (which they probably have enough of anyways).
I stay committed to the rituals that keep me grounded, eating well, and feeling well.
In the past I've allowed traveling to unravel my self care. Then a few years ago I decided that not feeling great when it was all said and done wasn't worth it.
I continue to practice qigong and meditate... it may not always be at the same time of day, but I still provide myself with that sacred space. This keeps me grounded.
Alone time is huge for me (INFJ/ ISFJ here) and I take it when I need it. I find ways to have it. Last year when my sister took the kids to church Christmas Eve, I offered to stay back and cook... it was as much for me as it was for her.
Whatever helps to keep you grounded, commit to it. It could be getting coffee with an old friend you only see once a year. Find that space that keeps you grounded and don't be afraid to ask for it.
I stick to healthy foods… and this is actually what I want to eat
No joke. I don't WANT to eat the crap many tend to eat around this time of year because if I do, I'll feel like sh*t. I WANT to eat healthy and what makes me feel good!!
Do I want to induldge in the amazing holiday treats? You bet. And I wish I could tell you that I have developed an insane amount of willpower to do avoid giving in. But that’s not it.
You see, the value I have for my health and how I’d like to feel override all of this for me. And if there is something I’d like, I make my own version of it.
For instance, I actually enjoy eggnog. So when others are drinking rum drenched dairy and egg, I blend fresh and frozen bananas with a couple of dates, water or coconut milk, and a nice sprinkle of nutmeg on top. It is soooo yum!!!
Okay, so what do I eat at a holiday dinner? Mostly, I eat what I would normally eat. Plant-based, low-fat, whole-foods. So last year for Christmas when my family had mashed potatoes (with butter, milk and cheese), green bean casserole (with those odd canned fried onions beloved by so many), and ham- I made a pumpkin soup (yes, from an actual pumpkin) and creamed kale (using coconut milk) with onions and nutmeg. And some of my family enjoyed these healthier options, too!
Whichever food lifestyle you are committed to, plan ahead and find ways to incorporate it- even if you're a guest and the host makes everything- bring a dish that will help you stay on your plan.
I know it sounds somewhat boring, but like I said, I am more comitted to my health than temporary gratification. If I don’t feel good, then I can’t enjoy my family as much… and that’s a huge bummer.
I do consider what my family will eat. One of my nieces actually LOVES pumpkin soup so I really enjoyed making it for her (and my sister and my husband loved it, too). So the love was still there, you know? It wasn't just for me.
Plan ahead. If you know your weakness is pie, make room for it. Eat really clean, but allow yourself that pie and savor it.
And don't get down on yourself if you did overindulge. Just move forward and stick with your plan as best you can.
I incorporate MOVEMENT when I can.
Aaron and I always find time to take walks. It's nice getting away from a loud house filled with screaming kids, loud toys, and a house full of people for days at a time.
I practice yoga some mornings while traveling which helps ground me and serves my need for moving around and stretching.
Perhaps there is a family member who will also commit to some form of exercise with you. Back in the day, my sister and I used to run together at least once during the holidays.
Like I said, incorporate MOVEMENT, it doesn't have to be a structured fitness routine. Play with the kids. Bench press the toddlers. Stretch. Get a game of football going on. Move your body around anyway you can... you'll feel better getting the blood and qi flowing.
Be Proud of Who You Are!
I'm okay being the different one, the one they all know won't eat this or that and has her own thing going on in the kitchen. I am unapologetically myself and that is one of the best ways we can practice self-care.
Ignore the comments from the peanut gallery. Have heart to heart talks about why this is important to you and why you continue to practice this healthy habit.
People can sometimes take your need for eating healthy food as an insult against how they eat or how they don’t take care of themselves. It shines a light on what they know they could be doing better for themselves and so they actually start to get defensive about it.
Another thing that can happen is sometimes people don’t know how to mentally categorize what doesn’t make sense to them. Your way of eating doesn’t make sense to them, they can’t categorize it in their brain with anything they know to be true, and therefore don’t know what to do with it and end up reacting vs responding.
Be unapologetically YOU. Take care of yourself this year with what you know will keep you healthier, more sane, and more connected.
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful, joyous, and loving holiday season <3
To your health and healing,