Wow, its that time of year again. It’s the end of 2016 and already, this month is flying by. This time of year is always crazy! Usually what happens, is we let go of what’s truly important; the true meaning of the holidays and our health.
It is so easy to indulge this time of year, gain a few extra pounds and start the New Year feeling lethargic and drained and a little angry at ourselves for not being more disciplined. Why do you think New Year’s Resolutions exist?
It’s hard to say no when cookies are the food of choice in the break room and there’s a holiday celebration in every direction you turn.
The reality though is that you can stay on track and care for yourself amidst the craziness and start the New Year off right!
A few key suggestions to get through the holidays with success:
- Mindfulness: Set a daily intention. It can be as simple as “I will make choices today that support my health and well-being” or “I will make today great, be grateful for what I have and honor my body”. When you commit to yourself first thing in the morning and set a positive, daily intention, it is far easier to make healthy choices throughout the day. When you are presented with an opportunity to indulge, make a conscious choice. Take a few deep breaths and think about where you are at emotionally. Do you really want to eat another cookie or have another glass of wine or is it because it’s just in front of you and a mindless act? When you make a conscious decision in regards to eating, you will find yourself making better choices. Maybe you have one cookie instead of two or maybe you drink a glass of water instead of have another glass of wine.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare! With so many opportunities to indulge and go off of your normal healthy routine, it’s especially important this time of year to prepare. Have healthy snacks and water readily available. Start your morning with a balanced, healthy smoothie with a good mix of healthy fat like coconut oil or avocado with protein and almond or coconut milk so that you start your day balancing out your blood sugar and the feeling of being full and satiated. When you are nutritionally balanced starting out your day, you will be less likely to crave unhealthy treats. If you are going to a party, eat something before so that you have control over what you will eat. Once you get to the party, you won’t be relying on whatever food is available and feel forced to eat whatever is available.
- Stay hydrated: The holiday season is busy and one thing that usually gets forgotten is drinking water. Plan ahead and have water with you at all times. If possible, drink filtered water whenever possible. More often than not, when we feel snacky, we are just thirsty. Drink a glass of water first and if you still feel hungry 20 minutes later, you will be less likely to grab that sugary snack and grab a healthier option.
- Substitute Ingredients: Baking is a big part of the holidays. Unfortunately, that usually means we are consuming a lot of refined sugar and processed foods. If you want to try upgrading your baking this year, start with substituting wheat flour with almond or coconut flour and use coconut sugar instead of brown or white refined sugar. You can easily search Google and look for paleo type desserts or search by asking how to make your favorite holiday cookies with coconut sugar or almond flour. The main thing to note is that you can’t just sub out ingredients in your traditional recipes. They WILL NOT be the same. Opt instead for trying out new recipes and starting new traditions. It’s fun to try out new things and find some new family favorites!
- Have fun! When you make time to enjoy the holiday season and experience joy, you will naturally feel more satisfied and will be less likely to self-sabotage. The holidays can bring a lot of stress to people. Between gift buying, family dynamics, travel, commitments, parties, and end of the year to dos, it can be overwhelming and easy to forget the true meaning of the holidays. Take time to have fun and bring pleasure into your life. Often when we crave sugar and make poor eating and drinking choices, it’s because we are looking for comfort and looking to satisfy an emotional need. The more mindful you can be about your intentions and take time out of each day to do something fun (whether it be with your kids, dancing, connecting with a friend, etc), you will feel more fulfilled and more likely to want to take care of yourself
- Nourish Yourself: The holidays become so stressful with all of the things that need to be done for others (baking cookies for your kids and neighbors, crafting for school projects, attending work holiday parties, buying gifts for everyone in your extended family, work and more work, etc, etc, etc) that we forget to nourish ourselves. Similar to having fun, it’s important to take time out for us. Get a manicure, take a bath, read a fun book, have quiet alone time, sit by a fire, listen to holiday music and RELAX 🙂
- Gratitude-It’s easy to get caught up in the daily frustrations of family, stress and exhaustion. A great way to combat that “Ughhhhh!” feeling when you are fed up or tired is to start a gratitude practice. Start out each morning with a minute of quiet time. Name a few things you are grateful for each day. When moments arise that leave you feeling emotional, take a minute and come back to what you are grateful for and focus on all of the good things in your life that you do have control over. This will bring you a sense of peace and help you feel more settled and refrain from looking to food or unhealthy lifestyle choices to bring you the comfort you desire.
- Kindness and Giving- The holidays are a time of giving. When we focus on kindness and giving from the heart, we naturally feel more joy and gratitude. There are many ways to give this holiday season. Find at least one thing that is meaningful to you and act on it. Find a local charity you want to support and give a monetary donation, go through the kids toys with them and bag up some good, used toys to give to a shelter, or pack a few bags of winter essentials and hand out to a few people who are living on the streets. There are endless ways to give, the main point being that it fills your heart with joy when you do it!
These things are sure to fuel your tank so you have the energy to give with more love and kindness during this holiday season. It will bring the true, holiday spirit out in you and help you to get through the holidays with more self-control and end your year in a healthy body and state of mind!