The holiday season brings a lot of fun and excitement to our lives – from gathering with people we love, to decorating our homes with lights and sparkle, to finding that perfect gift for someone on our list. But, it can also bring challenges, especially if you’re trying to keep your healthy eating and exercise on track. Along with those gatherings usually come an overabundance of food and drinks where we’re encouraged to fill our plates and go back for seconds and thirds. And all of that celebrating can leave us feeling groggy and drained and looking for the nearest couch or bed, instead of hitting our workout.
Many people who are on a wellness journey often wonder if there is anything they can do to maintain their progress during the holiday season, while still enjoying all of the fun. With a few tips that we’ll share, some intention, and perhaps some new habit building, it is possible to stay healthy while celebrating the season.
5 Healthy Tips to Get You Through the Holidays
- Keep up with portion control. Eating with abandon seems to be a holiday mainstay but it doesn’t have to be. You can still enjoy your grandmother’s green bean casserole, just limit the portions you eat. Try your best to stay on your typical eating schedule and eat small snacks during the day, along with three medium-sized meals instead of extra-large servings. Not only will this help with any weight loss goals by reducing the total amount of food you’re eating, it can also improve your digestion. And if you’re hosting a meal, consider using smaller plates or reducing the number of dishes you serve.
- Practice mindful eating. Hand-in-hand with portion control is slowing down while you eat. Looking forward to a big meal all day can make us eager to scarf everything down as quickly as we can but research has shown that eating slowly and mindfully savoring each bite gives our stomachs enough time to signal our brain that we’re full. This can help maintain better portion control and prevent overeating. It also allows us to be more present and truly enjoy what we’re eating.
- Eat your veggies. We’ve all heard this one since we were kids but it remains true, especially during the holidays. Enjoying delicious holiday food can include vegetables! There are plenty of recipes out there that add a healthier twist to traditional holiday veggies that are drowned in heavy sauces. For example, roasted asparagus with a dash of salt and pepper or roasted carrots can be a delicious and festive addition to the table. You could also consider serving vegetables first – either as a course or an appetizer to fill up on veggies instead of mac and cheese.
- Maintain an exercise routine. Holiday travel or hosting a house full of relatives can make it challenging to keep up with your exercise regime, but it’s important to maintain regular exercise for your mental and physical health. Exercise is not only good for your body but it can also help relieve the stress that’s an inevitable part of the holiday season. You don’t have to commit to a 60 minute HIIT workout if that’s too difficult, instead, consider small bursts throughout the day in the form of a post-dinner walk or ice skating with the family. Even a quick workout is better than none at all.
- Be kind to yourself. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can be challenging under the best circumstances so it’s important to be kind and compassionate to yourself during the holidays. A few big meals or slices of pie will not undo all of your progress, nor does it mean you can’t reset whenever you choose. Enjoy those buttery mashed potatoes and then get back on track the next day. One extravagant holiday meal doesn’t have to keep going for days on end, and you can get back to healthy cooking and exercise whenever you want. Consider checking your calendar to see where you might have windows of time to return to healthier habits.
A Healthy Holiday Season Is Possible
It can be easy to slip into an “all or nothing” mindset during the holidays and allow the overeating and couch potato-ing to go on for an entire month (or longer). But we can shift our approach to the holidays and find ways (like the tips above) to incorporate healthier habits into our celebrations. Enjoying the season doesn’t have to sabotage your wellness journey and if you’re intentional and creative, you really can have your proverbial cake and eat it too.
If you need some additional nutritional and fitness support during the holidays, reach out to Forge. We offer immersive custom fitness and nutrition coaching to individuals all over the world and our trainers and dietitian are ready to help you on your journey.