The holiday season can indeed be quite fun and exciting, but even happy occasions can be overwhelming, at times. Between the celebrations and obligations, it can be somewhat challenging to make healthy lifestyle choices and remain focused on maintaining balance in our lives. Many holiday traditions involve rich foods, large crowds, limited sleep, and added stress. Finding ways to foster mental well-being and physical health should be treated as a holiday tradition, as well.
The following are some helpful tips to support healthy living this holiday season:
- Take time to be kind to yourself. Relax, breathe, and connect. Plan your days accordingly, prioritizing important activities, but be sure to schedule downtime as well. Have a plan to execute group activities, such as holiday cleaning and decorating. Practice clear communication to ensure that everyone is aware of the tasks at hand and is willing to assist, without negativity, to accomplish them.
- Enjoy healthier options at holiday meals, keeping all the food groups in mind. When preparing meals, incorporate whole-grain or gluten-free options. Avoid using heavy cream or cow’s milk in recipes by substituting with coconut or almond milk. Add beans or unsalted nuts to salads. At holiday parties hosted by others, avoid overindulging by not arriving hungry. Before heading to a gathering, have a high-protein snack like hummus with vegetables, or a handful of nuts.
- Substitute soft drinks or alcohol with low-calorie options. Drink water with lemon or seltzer with a splash of 100% fruit juice… and cheers to good health!
- Give and be kind to others. Nourish your soul through human connection. Donate food to local food banks or volunteer to serve meals at a shelter during the holiday season. Be mindful of those who may be less fortunate or coping with challenging life circumstances.
- Make time for exercise. If sticking with your normal workout routine seems undoable, make exercise part of the fun. Take a brisk walk with a family member or friend after your holiday meal; enjoy the seasonal weather and good conversation while doing so.
- Cut down on sugar. Bake healthier by using only half the sugar in recipes. Use spices to add flavors such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg instead of salt. Try the Mediterranean or Himalayan sea salt, when salt is needed. Skip the pie crust when making apple pie. Bake apples instead; sprinkle them with a bit of cinnamon, sugar, and nuts.
- Get enough rest. Lack of sleep can make you more likely to crave sugary or greasy foods. Additionally, being tired may make you more likely to break commitments to your usual morning routine or exercise schedule. Sleep impacts all other areas of our health. When your sleep schedule is thrown off, everything else is thrown off too. By sticking to a somewhat normal sleep schedule, you will able to keep other areas of your life in balance as well.
- Avoid the common cold or flu by practicing self-care. Sleep, exercise, meditation, regular hand washing, and eating anti-viral foods such as fish, garlic, onions, and citrus fruits can help defend you from getting sick. Stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids, which can help flush out toxins and infections through the lymphatic system.
- Keep your spirits high! Surround yourself with the people you enjoy most; family, friends, and colleagues alike. Dance, mingle, laugh, and play. Laughter is natural medicine for your soul.