The holidays are a time for indulgence.
And I’m not just talking about the big pile of presents. I’m talking cookies and cocktails and cocoa and LOTS of them!
I believe that if you eat well the majority of the time — particularly at home and by bringing healthy, homemade meals to work — then you can most certainly indulge while out at a restaurant or at a party (heck, I’m usually first in line for dessert!). But the holiday season is filled with LOTS of opportunities for indulgence, and it can definitely take its toll, leaving your blood sugar out of whack and your liver calling for help.
The holiday season also carries some big stresses — stresses on your time, your budget, and your sanity (hello, family drama) — which negatively impacts health (and is just no fun, either!).
But it is possible to maintain a healthy balance while still enjoying the many festivities and decadent treats of the season.
10 Tips to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season
1) At home, opt for healthier, homemade versions of classic treats
We can’t control what our neighbors and coworkers bring to parties, but we can certainly control what we bring into our own homes. I just started a Pinterest board filled with homemade and healthy classic holiday treats and will be adding to it, so be sure to follow along!
2) At parties, focus on the veggie tray and sources of healthy fats and protein first
Fill up on veggies, protein, and healthy fats early on. Avoid crackers and other sources of refined, simple carbohydrates. Not only will these fill you up, but protein and fat help to temper the blood sugar spike that accompanies a sweet dessert (which I’m sure you plan to indulge in a bit!).
3) Bring a healthy dish you can fill up on to potlucks
If you’re asked to bring something to the party, fantastic! Make a healthy, satiating option that you can fill up on and others will enjoy as well. I recently made these Cucumber Rolls with Creamy Avocado and they were delicious! The healthy fats in the avocado make them very filling.
4) Indulge in those treats you really love and pass on those that aren’t your favorite
Make your indulgences really count! Plus by focusing solely on your favorite treats, you’re less likely to overdo it than with a plate filled with every dessert on the table.
5) Practice alternate nostril breathing when things get stressful
A family argument about politics? A crazy checkout line? Drama about who will host the neighborhood New Year’s Eve party? The holidays are a wonderful time, but can certainly be stressful! And not only is stress no fun, but it’s not healthy either. So when you’re feeling tense, let alternate nostril breathing bring you back to the holiday joy.
6) Indulge guilt-free
Guilt is a form of stress, and as we just said, stress is unhealthy! So even if you ignore all of these tips and really go off the deep end, simply say “Oh well! I’ll do better tomorrow” rather than berate yourself.
7) Sip some dandelion root tea between the cocoa and cocktails
Sugar spikes and alcohol both tax the liver. So give it a helping hand by sipping on same dandelion root tea, since dandelion root aids the detoxification process and protects the liver.
8) Give your digestive system a break with a green smoothie
Had an indulgent evening? Give your digestive system a little break and body a nutrition boost with a green smoothie. Remember to add healthy sources of fat and protein and keep fruits to a minimum so as to not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
When we’re busy — whether at home in the kitchen, running errands all around town, or finishing up important work projects before the office empties out for the holidays — it’s easy to forget the ultimate nutrition basic: water. Throw some extra cocktails, peppermint mochas, and sweet treats in there, and it’s easy to become quite dehydrated.
Remember the basic hydration equation:
Body weight ÷ 2 + [1.5 × oz of diuretics] = Ideal water intake in oz (but not exceed 100 oz)
10) Remember what the season is all about
The holidays are about spending time with loved ones and cherishing this wonderful thing we call life. It’s a time for happiness, not stress! Keep this in mind and let it guide you. This may mean politely declining social invites or taking someone out to lunch rather than finding them a gift — so be it!