The holiday season is here and it’s the perfect time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy some quality time with friends and family. However, it can also be a stressful time, full of tempting sugar-filled treats and indulgences.
If you’re looking to stay healthy over the holidays, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to have an ‘off’ day or to indulge in something naughty during this period. The key is to be mindful and not let these indulgences become long-term habits.
Here are some tips to help you stay healthy over the holiday season:
Watch your portion sizes.
This is one of the best things you can do to avoid feeling bloated, tired, and sluggish over the holidays. It's often easy to mindlessly snack on unhealthy treats or overindulge during meal times. If you find yourself reaching for that second helping, take a moment to pause and ask yourself if you really need it, or if it would be just as satisfying to have one smaller portion.
You can always add more to your plate later if you’re still feeling hungry afterward. Eating slowly will also help you to avoid overeating as it takes time for your brain to tell the stomach when it's had enough food. And don’t feel like you have to finish everything on your plate- just eat and enjoy what you can.
In addition, aim to fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies like leafy greens, carrots, and peppers at meals, then split the other half between carbohydrates and protein to make sure that you’re getting in all of your key nutrients.
Consider when you eat, not just what you eat.
From holiday parties to family gatherings and late-night snacking, it can be difficult to maintain healthy habits over the holiday season. To enjoy this time without having to sacrifice your health, try continuing to eat your meals on a regular schedule. For example, if you normally eat breakfast at 7 am, then try to keep to that schedule as much as possible, even when you're busy during the holidays. This will help you to stick to your usual healthy routine and also make it easier to plan meals in advance.
Look into healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes.
There are plenty of delicious, healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes that can still allow you to enjoy the holiday season without sacrificing your health goals.
For example, if you’re a fan of traditional holiday dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes, try using low-fat ingredients to lighten up the dish. Consider using reduced-fat or dairy-free milk, yogurt, or cream cheese instead of the full-fat versions, and opt for leaner cuts of meat or try meat-free alternatives. Also, use herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, and garlic to replace some of the salt in your dishes.
You can also substitute white flour with whole wheat flour or oats in baked recipes. This will add extra fiber and nutrition to your baked goods without compromising taste. Use applesauce or other fruit purees in place of oil or butter for a healthier option as well.
Don’t go to festive celebrations on an empty stomach.
One of the keys to successfully staying healthy over the holidays is to plan ahead so that you don't go to events on an empty stomach.
Think of what will be available at the party and make sure you have a nutritious and balanced meal beforehand. You can also bring a healthy snack such as a Raw Rev bar along with you, just in case. This way, you won't be tempted to overindulge or fill up on the unhealthy foods that are available.
Don't drink your calories.
Sodas, alcoholic beverages, and other high-calorie drinks can add up quickly when you’re consuming them in abundance over the holidays. In fact, many popular drinks contain more calories than a full meal!
So what should you do instead? Reach for lower-calorie options like unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water, or light beer. Choose low-sugar sodas or zero-calorie flavored waters. If you're looking for something with a bit more flavor, try adding a splash of juice or a few slices of fresh fruit to your sparkling water. And if you really want that alcoholic beverage, be sure to watch your portion sizes and make sure to alternate between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night.
Stay hydrated.As well as avoiding alcoholic beverages as much as possible, it’s also important to stay well-hydrated during the holiday season! Make sure to regularly top up your fluid levels with plenty of water- you should aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding in some lemon or lime juice to give it a more pleasant and refreshing flavor. You can also stay hydrated by including foods with high water content in your meals. Foods such as raw cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, and apples are great sources of natural hydration. You can also enjoy drinks such as herbal teas, and natural juices, which are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Why not try making a homemade holiday ‘mocktail’ with some of your favorite fresh fruit juices combined?
Be prepared for when you are away from home.
We all know how easy it can be to go off track while we’re staying at relatives’ & friends’ places over the holidays, especially if there aren’t many healthy options available.
That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and think of ways that you can stay on top of your healthy eating goals while you’re out and about. Think of holiday recipe ideas ahead of time that you can cook or help create. Pack tasty, healthy snack options like Raw Rev bars to avoid binging on high-fat & sugary treats.
Manage your stress levels.
The holiday season can be a time of joy, but it can also be incredibly stressful. With family gatherings, work commitments, and chaotic travel plans, it’s easy to become overwhelmed during this busy time. But don’t worry – there are plenty of healthy ways to manage the stress, so you can make it through the holidays without feeling overwhelmed.
One of the best ways to manage stress is to find healthy outlets for your emotions. Exercise is an excellent way to reduce tension and release endorphins, which can help boost your mood.
Getting enough rest is also key to managing stress. Make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night in order to give your body and mind time to recharge. Taking a hot bath or listening to relaxing music before bed can also help you wind down and prepare for sleep.
Talking with a friend or family member can also be a great way to manage stress. Take some time to connect with the people you care about during the holidays – not only will it provide emotional support, but it can also help you get perspective on any challenges you may be facing.
It’s also important to practice self-care during the holidays. Make sure to set aside some time for yourself each day, even if it’s just 10 minutes – it could be spent reading a book, meditating, or doing something else that brings you joy.
Keep moving your body.
Staying active is an important part of taking care of your health over the holiday season.
Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym, there are plenty of other ways to get your body moving. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or even just do some basic stretching and yoga at home. Choose activities that you enjoy and make sure to mix it up to keep things interesting.
We know that the cold weather and shorter days can also be a deterrent to getting outside and exercising, but why not make the most of this time, and find some seasonal fitness activities to enjoy? Not only are they a lot of fun, but these activities can also provide great exercise in the colder months. Consider going skiing or ice skating, and if there’s snow outside, then sledding and even shoveling snow is a great way to stay active.
For those who prefer an indoor activity, why not try dancing (and yes- Christmas parties are perfect for this!) or play some fitness-focused video games? You can even make it a fun group activity with family and friends!
No matter which activities you choose, making sure to stay active during the holidays can help keep you healthy and energized throughout the winter. Have fun, get creative, and enjoy having fun with fitness this holiday season.
When it comes to snacking, try and opt for healthier options like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, dairy-free yogurt, Raw Rev bars, or veggie sticks with hummus. You could also try creating your own healthy homemade sweet snacks such as Christmas frozen yogurt bark, festive fruit skewers, energy balls, and more!
What are some of your favorite ways to stay healthy over the holiday season? Let us know in the comments section down below.