This time of year, I basically feel like I might as well be running in circles throwing tinsel everywhere and slapping a bow on an endless amount of gifts. As I enter my mid to late twenties I’m noticing how each year there seems to be more people to buy for and less money to do it with (*eye roll* thanks student loans!). While I can’t really control the size of my family parties, one thing that gives me peace of mind during the holiday craze is the fact that I know I can still keep my health and wellness on track.
I celebrate Christmas in my family but I think these ideas can apply to any family gathering. Although I look forward to the celebration of the holiday more than any other time of the year, it’s been a challenge for me to stick to my health values.
When I started my health journey over 2 years ago, I always felt worried about what I was going to do for food at holiday parties. I never liked the feeling of eating the heavy food that my mom refers to as “stick to your ribs” but leaves me feeling like Violet Beauregard in blueberry form.
My family is one that is steeped in tradition which mean we always need to have Grams extra sweet and gooey apple pie or an endless amount of butter laden stuffing. Basically, you get the idea that when I first started this process there weren’t always a lot of alternatives that didn’t include munching on a bowl of sad looking iceberg lettuce for a “salad.”
I had no idea what I was doing, so there was no way to relay to my family what healthier options would be helpful for myself and other relatives with health or allergy concerns. Fast forward two years and I have things down to a science and give my extended family so much credit for embracing more healthy options and habits over the holidays.
I’m someone who loves for things to be as simple and uncomplicated as possible so here are some ideas that have worked for me:
Shake it up
Put a healthy twist on a classic holiday meal you love and bring enough to share! I recently found out that my parents would puree some spinach to add to brownie mix for an extra boost of fiber, vitamins & minerals when I was a kid. You could also cut down on fat by replacing butter in a recipe with unsweetened apple sauce. If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know my go-to thing is to try to “veganize” a recipe. Just an FYI, each amount of healthy substitutes can vary depending on the recipe so start googling and get creative!
Set up for success
Around this time, most of my friends are planning a late night New Years Eve party or even just getting together for a Christmas Yankee Swap. But that can mean it’s all appetizer or snack foods instead of a full meal. That can sometimes be harder to plan for since most people will bring chips and dip or “pigs in a blanket” type of food. If I’m going to a party like this I make sure to eat a full healthy meal at home before I show up. Sometimes I’ll try a couple bite sized portions of dessert but since I’m not starving when I arrive I’m not eating large portions of heavy food.
Don’t forget about that high-quality H2O
Drink water if you find that you’re picking at a snack plate. Sometimes dehydration masks itself as hunger so drink a couple glasses of water to see if that hungry feeling subsides.
Enjoy the sweeter side of life
Being healthy is all about balance. That means making smart choices when you don’t have a lot of healthy options. For example, if you know you want to eat a slice of pie maybe skip the potatoes at dinner and replace them with more green vegetables or salad greens.
Get up and get moving
Carry the family discussions outside by being the person that gets everyone to go for a walk. Walking together between dinner and dessert gets you away from picking at leftovers or mindlessly eating during conversations.
Don’t sweat it, you got this!
Don’t beat yourself up if you overindulge, just get back on track the next day. Take a moment to think about how you want to accomplish getting back to your routine then hit the re-set button and keep on moving!
I know this has personally been happening to me this winter. I’ve been getting used to a new schedule and in the middle of moving while prepping for the holidays. It’s a lot, and I got a little off track with commitment to my exercise routine. But now that I’m more settled I’m back at it! Healthy living should integrate into your life so you can enjoy your time during the holidays and feel good too!
So now that you read what I do you might think “well those are obvious.” But the fact that they are so simple is exactly the point! It can be very straight forward and not always time consuming to make a few little changes to make sure you don’t derail your progress during your holiday.
Always remember to consult your doctor before starting any exercise or nutrition program.