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NAVIGATING A HEALTHY HOLIDAY
I’m here to tell you that it is completely possible to stay on track with your health goals during the holidays while enjoying all your favorite foods and traditions. You don’t have to go off the grid only to regret it later! If you are all or nothing, try to shift your mindset over the holidays with these simple and effective tips.
It’s no secret that the holiday season is filled with delicious feasts and celebrations. Kicking off with Thanksgiving and finishing with New Years Eve, this 8 week period of festivities can easily take a toll on your health. By overindulging during the holidays, the average person gains 6 pounds! You might think 6 pounds is no big deal, and depending on the person, it may not be. But those over 40 years of age are less likely to actually lose the added weight in the new year. And throughout the years, this holiday weight gain can easily add up and make you feel sluggish.
So, what can we do to stay healthy, relaxed, nourished, and refreshed this holiday season? I’m sure glad you asked! I’m giving you all the tools you need to stay on track this season. Consider this your healthy holiday “survival kit”.
Before the holiday season kicks off, determine your “why:” why do you want to get/stay healthy, even through the holidays? For example: Do you want to effectively manage your cholesterol levels? Or, maybe you aspire to run a half marathon in 2021? Or, if you have young kids or grandkids, staying active is probably a top priority.
Whatever your “why,” keep it at the forefront of your mind. Use pictures, notes, and reminders to do so. Are you in a program where you have a clear plan and roadmap?
Traditionally, the host selects the menu. By offering to host and cook for your loved ones, you are in control of the snacks, meals, desserts, and drinks served. As the cook, you can opt for lighter dishes that cater to your dietary needs, as well as those of your guests.
If hosting is not an option, offer to bring a few of your favorite dishes to share. Appetizers, sides, or desserts, are great options to contribute. Many people use the holiday as an excuse to eat more food than usual. Plan to make healthy dishes in advance so you are equipped with a meal you know you can have. This is also an opportunity to share your nutrition journey with your friends and family members.
Drinking additional calories is a prime offender of weight gain during the holidays. For this reason, I encourage you to rethink your drink. Instead of sugary cocktails and eggnog, opt for one glass of red one with dinner or vodka soda with a splash of cranberry juice. Always remember the importance of moderation: stick to one glass, instead of over-indulging with several drinks throughout the night.
Although the holiday season is packed with good eats and treats, place your focus on the community around you. After all, the holiday season is truly about spending time with your loved ones. And if the opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to share about your new healthy lifestyle. You might be surprised by just how interested others will be!
While primarily focusing on friends and family around you, be weary of mindful eating. Eat slowly and thoroughly chew each and every bite. Savor the flavors and cherish the aromas, instead of eating in a hurry. Slow down, relax, and enjoy.
You can practice eat intuitively by taking at least 5 big deep breaths before your meal. Put a little tasting of everything you can eat on your plate. Choose wisely who you sit next to and be present while engaging in a pleasant conversation.
Notice the food and appreciate the smell, taste, color, and show appreciation to the people who prepared it. Chew thoroughly and slowly and allow your fork to rest on your plate in between bites. Practice breathing in through your nose while you chew and eat. When you are halfway through, stop and take some deep breaths.
Assess how full you are. On a scale of 1-10, try really hard to stop when you are at a 7–not an 11. Most importantly, shut off your phone, email, social media, etc. and just be present and ENJOY the day with your loved ones. This time is precious and your friends and family want you fully there!
While moderately enjoying the flavors of the season, aim to eat for nourishment. Stay on track with your health goals during the holidays by making it a priority to eat breakfast every morning. Opt for a green smoothie, instead of croissants and donuts- especially if you know you’ll be indulging a little more later in the day.
Begin your day as you would any other day on your custom plan. Don’t skip meals to save intake for later. By starting your day with a balanced smoothie, you are getting a really nourishing and macronutrient balanced meal to set the tone. Even if this is the only meal that stays consistent during the season, you are already winning!
In addition, let your first course be full of vegetables such as salad or soup so that refined pastries and sweet appetizers don’t lead to a sugar craving cycle the rest of the meal/day.
Despite common belief, skipping meals throughout the day is not the way to prevent weight gain this season. Be sure to eat 3 balanced meals every day and limit snacking. Each meal should be composed of clean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs to keep you satisfied, stave off cravings, and regulate your blood sugar.
If possible, try to drink 2 full glasses of water with fresh lemon juice 30 minutes before your meal
Even with excess indulgences, it’s important to stay active and moving. If you are already an active individual, aim to stay consistent with your workouts and training programs.
If workouts are not currently a part of your day-to-day, don’t worry. To achieve adequate movement, strive to walk 10,000 steps per day. Also, dedicate 10 minutes in the morning or evening to stretch. Your muscles and mind will thank you.
Plan a fun activity the look forward to before or after the meal instead of sitting on the couch. Maybe that is visiting another family member or friend, helping the host clean dishes, playing football or games, participating in a Turkey Trot, playing with kids, volunteering somewhere, getting a head start on shopping, taking a walk, etc.
While the holidays are known to bring excess calories, they can also cause excess stress. Effectively managing stress is highly under-rated and should be a top priority. To manage your stress this year, try yoga for movement and meditation.
I recommend you scan the whole spread before putting food on your plate. Make choices that will nourish you the most! It’s much easier to naturally eat more carbohydrates and fats during the holidays.
Try not to skimp on the protein! Protein helps you stay full and keeps your metabolism revved up. Focus on high quality protein with each meal. Eat a protein packed snack an hour before your Thanksgiving & Holiday meals. This might be your protein shake, a few slices of turkey or grilled chicken, protein bar, smoked salmon, hardboiled eggs, or jerky.
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving and the Holiday season is all the fresh turkey breast. Turkey contains essential amino acids and B-vitamins that support our immune system and energy. It also contains tryptophan which improves mood and anxiety.
Aim for 4-5oz of protein from animal or fish protein with each meal or about the size of your palm. For the best quality meat delivery, give ButcherBox a try. This is my favorite meat subscription.
The holidays are not the time to skip supplements! To avoid nutritional deficiencies, stay consistent with your supplement regimen. Lacking nutrients, in addition to excess sugar and alcohol, can greatly hinder your health goals. The last thing you want to do is halt or reverse all the progress you’ve worked so hard for!
Consider consuming extra glutathione and glutamine, if temptation and cravings are getting the best of you. This is my secret weapon that clients always tell me kicks their sugar cravings to the curb because they help with daily detoxification and keep you feeling satisfied. By supplementing with more of these amino acids and antioxidants, you can dramatically reduce sugar cravings. These nutrients can also help you detox excess toxins, like sugar and alcohol, properly.
Give your brain a break and unplug for a bit during the holidays. Giving your brain a break from social media, phones, emails, and work can help you reduce stress and anxiety. It also helps you refocus on the year ahead and head into a new season and year feeling refreshed and motivated. It’s a great time to connect with your loved ones and focus on what matters most.
Relationships are often overlooked when it comes to health and healing. We must cultivate joy with people who are around us. Establishing relationships that are deep and meaningful add so much value to your life. Studies continue to show the benefits of strong relationships on mental health, stress, and how it improves health.
Additionally, unplugging should also mean catching up on rest, prioritizing sleep, and unwinding to take a much needed mental and physical break from the normal hustle of day to day life.
If you are someone who feels staying on track during the holidays is hard, I highly recommend my meal plan subscription program. You can sign up just for the holidays and cancel anytime (although I don’t think you’ll want to). We have a special edition Thanksgiving and holiday Meal Plan coming out over the next few months with over 30 delicious healthy recipes of all your holiday favorites. There’s even a bonus Cookie Exchange Booklet for the month of December for those who are in the subscription.
My favorite benefit about the meal plan subscription is that you get access to our member only Facebook group. This is the best place to get help and support from a community who is in this together and committed to staying on track with their gut health and autoimmune wellness goals this holiday season (and beyond)!
You can stay on track with your health goals during the holidays while enjoying all your favorite foods if you practice a balanced mindset and lifestyle. You don’t have to go off the grid and forget about everything you’ve worked hard to achieve this year. If you are all or nothing, try to shift your mindset over the holidays.
Set your intention beforehand and think about how you want to feel after your meal. Is it worth feeling sick or having a health set-back? Hold yourself accountable and share that intention with a close family member who will cheer you on and tell you “you can do it” .
Instead of restricting yourself from the things you love or overindulging, try to focus on nourishing your body the best you can with the methods above while still enjoying some of your traditions and favorite sweet treats, guilt free!
All things considered, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed and treasured. While practicing mindfulness and moderation, I hope you savor the flavors of the season, enjoy quality time with friends and family, and enter the new year feeling healthier than ever!
Disclaimer: Please consult with your doctor and/or practitioner before starting any of the supplements listed above. These statements are not approved by the FDA. Personalized supplementation protocols are the best way to ensure regimens are the right fit for you. The results presented here are individual and are not promised to be the exact results you’ll get.
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