December is finally here, so I’ve got some simple tips to stay healthy during the holidays. This is a treasured time of year, but it’s easy to let healthy habits slip as schedules get disrupted, sugary treats are readily available, and gatherings have us out of our normal rhythm of sleeping and exercising.
What can we do to feel as healthy as possible during the holidays? How can we continue to nourish ourselves during this beautiful, but sometimes chaotic and busy time of year?
Thankfully, simple practices and small efforts have a big impact. Remaining committed to our own well-being does not have to be hard or complicated.
11 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays:
1. Rest – Prioritize it! If you know you’ll be out late at a holiday party or gathering, make an effort to get to bed early leading up to it and the days following it. On days when it’s possible, take a short nap or lie down with your feet up.
Do your best to get some early morning sunlight, and for a bonus, step outside for a few minutes in the evening as the sun sets to sync your Circadian rhythm.
2. Accept Help – If you’re hosting or helping to plan any sort of gathering, be willing to accept help. Not only that, ask for it! Most people love to make small contributions, but don’t often know how to do so.
Ask them to bring a dish or be in charge of a particular task. Involve your whole family in the cooking, cleaning and prepping for friends and family to arrive. Don’t try to do it all alone.
3. Indulge with Intention … Or, not. Either way, do it with intention. If you are in the middle of a flare up or a health challenge, don’t be afraid to refuse food or drinks you know won’t serve your body well.
Eat at home beforehand or offer to bring a dish you know you can eat (and love!) to the party or gathering. I have plenty of holiday recipes on my website.
And, here’s a tip I learned through experience – grab a glass of water to sip on, and nobody will mind or even notice that you aren’t eating or drinking anything. And if they do, don’t sweat it! You can be confident and proud, knowing you’re doing what’s best for you.
If you do choose to indulge, do so mindfully. Can you choose a treat that won’t react with your body? Can you bake and bring a favorite healthier dessert or appetizer?
Also, decide what you will indulge in, and do so freely and mindfully…but not excessively. Remember, making one choice to indulge is very different from throwing in the towel on healthy habits and eating altogether. Our goal is to do the former, not the latter.
4. Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet – Foods rich in vitamins A, D, E and K are particularly nourishing and satiating, which will help keep blood sugar levels even and cravings low. My website gives a great overview of what a nutrient dense diet looks like.
Outside of large parties, gatherings, or special family meals, focus on foods that will nourish your body. This means consuming plenty of vegetables, nourishing meat broth, healthy fats, wild caught seafood, pastured meats and eggs, and some complex carbohydrates. Take sugars, processed foods, and inflammatory vegetable oils out of your diet, since they suppress your immune system.
My website has so many delicious recipes to get you started.
5. Communicate – Let others know that you will or won’t be eating certain things, or that you’ll need to leave a gathering by a certain time, or that you can make one commitment but not another. Sometimes just being upfront about your efforts to feel better and remain well is surprisingly stress-reducing.
Communicating upfront can reduce the potential for awkward or difficult situations around health and food.
6. Drink Plenty of Water – Water helps transport nutrients and oxygen into our cells. It also helps to regulate body temperature. Staying properly hydrated reduces food cravings and helps to keep your mood balanced .
A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.
7. Gentle Detox Therapies – Gentle detox is beneficial during holiday seasons when we might be traveling more often and get exposed to additional toxins, stressors, and unhealthy foods.
Epsom salt baths are a wonderful way to detox the body as well as relieve tension from the day. Bring your own epsom salt to a hotel or the house where you’ll be staying during the holidays. Soaking in a bath with 1 cup of epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oil will help you relax and replenish your magnesium stores.
Castor oil packs are also an equally gentle and effective way to detox.
8. Movement – Try to gently move your body every day. Post-meal walks are a fabulous way to maintain more balanced blood sugar levels.
Taking a solo walk in the midst of a fuller-than-normal house can provide a peaceful break in the day. Taking a walk with a friend or family member who is visiting from out of town can be equally restorative.
Gentle stretching, low impact exercises, and short breaks for walks or simple body movement will keep you feeling well.
9. Stress Management and Deep Breathing – Try one of these simple breathing exercises.
10. Perspective – Focus on making beautiful memories and connecting relationally versus making food the centerpiece of the holidays. The more people and moments become the centerpiece of your holidays, the less pressure you’ll feel to make perfect food choices or stick to perfect health habits.
Practice gratitude and mindfulness. Take the opportunity to disconnect from technology and slow down.
11. Schedule and Plan Ahead – If you know you’ll be traveling and/or staying at another person’s home, take some time to come up with a game plan! Pack your own travel snacks such as Justin’s nut butter packets, Chomp sticks, whole fruits, hard boiled eggs, properly prepared nuts and seeds.
Additionally, pack food for when you’re staying outside of your own home. Research restaurants and grocery stores in the area that you know have food you would feel good about eating. Consider using one of these apps or websites to your aid or even find a farmer’s market!
I’m wishing you a healthy and joyous holiday season!