For many, the holiday season means a busy social calendar, juggling work with the kids out of school, and time with family. While the holidays are meant to be “the most wonderful time of year,” it can also leave us feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and down on ourselves.
If you’ve worked hard to build healthy habits throughout the year, you might be wondering how to navigate the holidays without weight gain or sabotaging your progress. Keep reading to learn our top tips for staying healthy during the holidays.
Staying Healthy During the Holidays
Eating healthy during the holidays and sticking to your health goals may be easier said than done. Perhaps a small holiday indulgence turns into a total free-for-all with food. You might feel guilt after eating and then tell yourself you’ll stick to your goals as a new year’s resolution.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you are on a strict, stressful program or off the bandwagon and letting go of the habits you’ve built, there is another way. Here are some ideas for finding that middle ground.
Set Realistic Health Goals
Thinking ahead and planning for healthy holiday eating and health habits is a good idea. Think about last year, the circumstances that threw you off, and what you might do differently this time.
Set realistic goals. For example, with added commitments, it may not be realistic to exercise for 45 minutes each day, but you can get to the gym three or four times per week. Or perhaps you plan to enjoy Aunt Carol’s apple pie, but you might skip other desserts at your holiday feast.
Many holiday traditions center around eating and being sedentary. Find creative ways to stay active this holiday season. Some ideas are to go sledding, go for a neighborhood walk to look at lights, or play in the snow with the kids. If you can’t get to the gym, try to get a lot of steps in throughout the day.
For many people, the holidays are stressful because of family conflicts, extra commitments, financial pressure, and people-pleasing. This year, find ways to reduce stress where you can.
Reducing stress might mean practicing self-care where you can. It might also mean saying “no” to the obligations that don’t bring you joy. Perhaps pick one or two gatherings to attend instead of saying “yes” to every invitation and burning yourself out.
Get Quality Sleep
Prioritizing sleep will support energy, metabolism, and help you make more intuitive choices around food. Skipping sleep will only add to stress and make it harder to practice good self-care.
Try sticking to your bedtime and creating a relaxing bedtime routine to get quality sleep.
Focus on Nutrition
Sticking to your nutrition plan becomes challenging with so many temptations this time of year. Let’s explore some healthy holiday eating tips and how to focus on nutrition realistically.
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
When it comes to eating well this holiday season, allow for some pleasure and tradition with what you eat while providing a solid foundation of whole, nutrient-rich foods to balance blood sugar, provide energy, and keep cravings at bay.
Plan Healthy Meals
Take some time to plan healthy meals. Prioritize a healthy breakfast each day and keep healthy holiday snacks (like Scott’s Protein Balls limited edition Peppermint Bark holiday balls) on hand, so you have a healthy option when needed.
If we have a festive meal to look forward to, we may be inclined to skip meals and “save” calories for later. This approach tends to lead to overeating later.
Everything in Moderation
The phrase “everything in moderation” tends to get thrown around with holiday eating. This phase has roots in the soda and processed food industry as a marketing tool to make room for ultra-processed food.
Instead, tune into your body and get acquainted with how food makes you feel. Chances are you’ll discover your body feels better when you choose higher quality, upgraded options.
Give Yourself Grace
Finally, enjoy yourself, let go of perfection, and give yourself grace. The holidays are to be enjoyed. Find ways to feel good in your body by committing to your health and find ways to include the pleasure you get from your favorite holiday treats and traditions.