The holidays may be merry and bright… but definitely come with some added stress and lots of unhealthy indulgences.
This Healthy Holidays Survival Guide has everything you need to maintain your health while enjoying the best of this special season!
The holiday season is filled with fun parties, family, friends, traditions, and… lots of sugar, alcohol, and stress too!
In other words, it’s a wonderful time of the year but can definitely take its toll on our health.
It can leave us feeling tired, moody, and bloated, not mention broken out and more prone to colds and the flu.
But you’re not doomed to a winter filled with weight gain, exhaustion, and a runny nose.
There are some really simple strategies we can use to stay healthy while still enjoying the holiday season.
They all point to…
- Keeping blood sugar levels as balanced as possible (while still enjoying the cocoa and cookies!)
- Giving your liver some extra love between the hot toddies and spiked eggnog
- Boosting your immune system to avoid the cold and flu
- Taking time for self-care and to destress
- Keeping skin hydrated and your best face forward at holiday celebrations
Let’s take a closer look at each!
Healthy Holidays Survival Guide
Keep that blood sugar as balanced as possible (while still enjoying the cocoa and cookies!)
This is without a doubt the most important but also most difficult!
Because think of the holiday season and it’s impossible not to think of sugary treats whether that’s candy canes and gingerbread men or mashed potatoes and stuffing (remember: carbs = sugar once digested).
All of this sugar not only leads to weight gain but also suppresses our immune systems, zaps us of our energy, and can even throw our hormones off balance and lead to breakouts.
But there are a few ways you can easily maintain balanced blood sugar levels during the holiday season.
Start your day with a breakfast high in protein and healthy fats
It’s ESPECIALLY important to keep blood sugar levels steady in the morning with a breakfast high in protein and healthy fat. Because maintaining balanced blood sugar levels in the morning will keep them steady through to lunch without the snack-attack or need for coffee.
And eating breakfast in itself is important for blood sugar regulation. When you skip out on breakfast, your body produces cortisol which in turn elevates blood sugar levels.
At parties, focus on the veggie tray and sources of healthy fats and protein… then indulge in dessert!
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!).
Indulge in those treats you really love and pass on those that aren’t your favorite
Make your indulgences 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.
Give your liver some extra love between the hot toddies and spiked eggnog
Sugar spikes and alcohol both tax the liver. So give it a little extra lovin’ while it’s working overtime during the holidays!
Add dandelion root tea to your daily routine
Dandelion root thins and stimulates bile flow and is my personal favorite liver- and detox-supporting herb. Plus a mug of hot dandelion root tea is perfect during the cold winter months! Adding this to your daily routine is an incredibly simple way to boost your liver health.
Give your digestive system a break with an overnight 12-hour fast
This isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds — a typical overnight 12-hour fast runs from 7 pm to 7 am, 7-8 hours of which time you’ll be asleep! This gives your digestive system a break and allows your body to instead focus on detoxification during this time when you liver is most active — while you’re sleeping.
Take time to destress
A family argument about politics? A crazy checkout line? Drama about who will host the neighborhood New Year’s Eve party? Trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and stick to your budget?
The holidays are a wonderful time, but can certainly be stressful! And not only is stress just no fun, but it also suppresses the immune system, can lead to weight gain, and interfere with our hormonal balance.
Legs up the wall yoga pose
This incredibly simple yoga pose pushes your body into its relaxed state (parasympathetic mode). It’s also great for lymphatic flow and so benefits your body’s natural detox processes — bonus!
Just get down on the floor, scoot your booty up against the wall, throw your legs up against the wall and keep them there for at least 3 minutes. While you’re down there, close your eyes take some deep breathes to further unwind.
Alternate nostril breathing
This simple breathing technique also pushes your body into parasympathetic mode. Here’s how to do it:
- Find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed for a few minutes.
- Cover one of your nostrils and take a slow, deep breath in through the other nostril for 8 seconds.
- Then cover the other nostril (through which you just inhaled), and exhale through the nostril you were just covering again for 8 seconds.
- Keep that same nostril covered and now breathe in through the nostril that you just used to exhale.
- Continue on for at least 10 reps.
Maintaining boundaries and saying “no” when it’s appropriate
Is attending that cocktail party or coordinating the neighborhood cookie swap going to stress you out? If you just can’t make it, you just can’t make it! The party will go on without you.
Boost your immune system to avoid the cold and flu
Not only is the holiday season also cold and flu season, but traveling, holiday gatherings, and busy shopping trips expose us to more people and germs than usual.
We’ve already covered how to side-step two of the biggest attacks on your immune system: sugar and stress. Now let’s take a look at some immune-boosting supplements.
Scientists from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy reviewed over a dozen studies on the effects of echinacea and concluded that it can reduce the chances of catching a cold by approximately 58% and can reduce the duration of a cold by 1.4 days!
Of course! The immune-boosting benefits of vitamin C are probably what its most well known for. This antioxidant vitamin increases the body’s production of white blood cells and antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria.
Not all vitamin C supplements are created equally. I prefer a raw vitamin C supplement made from whole foods sources. Camu camu powder also acts as a single-ingredient, whole foods source of vitamin C. Good food sources of Vitamin C include red bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli.
With up to 80% of the immune system residing in the gut, a healthy and robust gut microbiome is key for a healthy immune system. This is why probiotics help to boost the immune system and just one of the many reasons they are so beneficial to our health!
Soil-based probiotics like this one are the gold standard in my book, though this is a more economical option and also very high-quality. You can also add probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir to your diet.
Keep skin hydrated to put your best face forward at holiday celebrations
The dry winter air can do a number on the skin, causing it to also become dry and irritated. And I’m guessing flaky, red, and wrinkly aren’t exactly the look you’re going for during holiday celebrations!
Hydrate, then moisturize
Remember: skin hydration and skin moisture are very different, and we need both to keep skin healthy and smooth, and dryness away.
Hydration comes from water whereas moisture comes from oil. And in the cold winter months, it’s key to replenish skin hydration and then lock that hydration in with moisture.
I’ve recently been loving this hydrating Ultra Hyaluronic Beauty Mist from MyChelle Dermaceuticals which I then follow up with my Body Unburdened Beauty Blend for moisture.
I’d love to hear from you!
Which of these do you most struggle with during the holiday season?
Do you have any other tips for keeping healthy during the holidays?
Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below…!