I can’t believe the holidays are upon us! The dregs of Halloween candy are still lurking in bins with “half-off!” tags screaming at us to buy. Meanwhile, displays are filling up with cans of pumpkin pie mix and boxes of candy canes. It’s a gut-busting time of year! Temptations abound and life gets so hectic. Even our best intentions can get pushed to the back-burner if we don’t make a strong effort to keep our healthy habits going strong. Today I want to talk about three categories under the broad umbrella of “healthy living” and provide some healthy holiday tips to make 2014 a year to remember in a GOOD way… Not an “ugh” way.

FOOD/NUTRITION

If you follow a diet of any type, whether for weight loss, health reasons (such as food allergies or sensitivities), or simply wanting to eat clean to feel your best, holiday parties can be a challenge. You want to be gracious to your host or hostess and enjoy the bountiful spread. You want something to do with your hands (!!!), and often a plate and a glass of something yummy can take the edge off of any social awkwardness. You want to fit in. Heck… You want to live a little and indulge! But how can you do that without sacrificing your health?

Here are a few ideas to help you navigate your next holiday gathering without feeling bloated, green, and Grinch-like the next day.

  • Don’t go to restaurants, dinner parties, or other food-based events when you’re hungry. Have a late lunch or eat something light before you go. That way you won’t make poor decisions because you’re starving!
  • Avoid getting sloshed. The more you drink, the harder it will be to resist that third (or fourth, or fifth) helping of canapés. If you drink alcohol, alternate your glass of wine with a glass of sparkling water.
  • When invited to someone’s home for dinner, politely inform your host/hostess about any food sensitivities in advance (so there are no surprises for you OR for him/her), and offer to bring a side dish. Even if your food options are limited, you can load up on the dish that you brought.
  • If you suffer the “OMG what do I make???” panic when hosting dinner guests at YOUR home, consider creating a set menu that you default to every time you have a dinner party. And it can still be “clean!” Everybody loves simple grilled steak or fish, a green salad with loads of yummy vegetables, and fruit for dessert. Grilled pineapple with a drizzle of balsamic? Yum. Roasted pears with a touch of honey and a sprinkling of lightly toasted nuts? Divine.
  • Bring back the concept of “Supper Clubs” and “Progressive Dinners.” With supper clubs, the host provides the main dish and everyone else brings sides. At a progressive dinner, the group travels from home to home, each home providing an element of the meal (for example: appetizers, soup, salad, main course, and dessert). These potluck-style atmospheres makes it easy to pick and choose food items that suit your dietary needs, and also allow you to bring something that you KNOW works well for your health.
  • Remember, the point of holiday parties is to gather, connect and socialize… Not just to eat! Go armed with the will to focus more on the social aspect than the gustatory aspect of holiday events.

FITNESS

If you find it difficult to fit in a complete workout, try to fit more incidental movement into your day. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Stand up when talking on the phone with friends and family. Holiday check-ins with grandparents, aunts/uncles, old friends, etc. can be LENGTHY… So find a way to fit in some movement and/or positional changes while you’re at it!
  • Take the stairs — NOT the elevator/escalator — when you’re at the mall.
  • Don’t curse the hordes of holiday shoppers that making parking spots scarce… Embrace it! Park in the farthest parking spaces to add more walking to your day, and do biceps curls with your shopping bags when you haul your purchases back to your car.
  • Lastly, give bathroom fitness a try. Aim for a full day of my “bathroom fitness challenge” and see how you feel!
Another idea: Tone at home. If you can’t make it to the gym, follow along with your favorite exercise video. Head over to YouTube and try my “Turkey Day Tabata!”

STRESS/ANXIETY

First (and most importantly), take a moment to stop and BREATHE IN the moment. (Do it right now!) We anticipate the holidays for months in advance, especially if we’re traveling or visiting distant family/friends. So take a moment to slow down and enjoy it, because before you know it, it’ll be over.
Have time for more than one deep breath? Good. This is one of the best stress relievers I’ve found. When life seems to be moving at a million miles per hour… Or when you feel the ball of anxiety in your chest begin to grow and expand as you watch your child’s holiday program drag on and on and on… Try this simple meditation I learned from Gabrielle Bernstein:
  1. Breathe in slowly and touch your pointer finger to your thumb as you say, “Peace”
  2. Breathe out slowly and touch your middle finger to your thumb as you say, “Begins”
  3. Breathe in slowly and touch your ring finger to your thumb as you say, “With”
  4. Breathe out slowly and touch your pinkie finger to your thumb as you say, “Me.”

Repeat 3-5 times. Not comfortable with deep, slow breathing? Click here for a “core breathing” tutorial.

I hope these healthy holiday tips help… Here’s to a healthy, happy holiday season!

signUp

You won’t believe how good you can feel, and how brightly you can shine. Be the woman who lights up the room! For blog updates + women’s health inspiration, SUBSCRIBE to our email newsletter.