How to Stay Healthy In the Holiday Season
Even in the year of social distancing, you’ll be facing the shift in diet and exercise. While perhaps you’ve downsized your holiday parties or opted not to travel, comfort food, holiday cookies, cold weather, and everything else can still throw your routines for a loop.
Instead of telling yourself you can’t indulge and enjoy these foods, consider being mindful instead.
This is a practice called Intuitive Eating (1):
“Intuitive Eating is a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought and was created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. Intuitive Eating is a weight-inclusive, evidence-based model with a validated assessment scale and over 100 studies to date.”
While intuitive eating is a popular practice for many all times of the year, it can be a great way to keep your health goals in mind by relying on yourself instead of counting calories or restricting your diet (2).
Another way to stick to a healthy diet during the holiday season is to keep up with your normal eating habits to the best of your ability. Consistency is key, and by following a routine you can avoid overeating.
If you’re planning on going to a holiday party for a meal, drinks, and snacks, do what you can to stay “on-track” during the day. Meaning: Just because you’re not going to be eating clean later on, doesn’t mean the whole day has to be out of your routine.
While this makes the motivation and ability to work out more difficult, it can and should be done! It’s easy to “fall off the wagon” that is your exercise regimen, but if you change your expectations and set small goals, it will be much easier.
Perhaps instead of your 2-mile outdoor walk, you switch to a 20-minute youtube guided workout! If you’re feeling too busy for a workout, take a look at your schedule and priorities and determine where you can squeeze in a quick workout. It’s always better to do a little than nothing at
We’ve talked about it before, exercise is important enough to fit into your busy schedule!
Some barriers to working out during the holidays might be cold weather, a busy schedule, travel, or stress/low motivation.
These tips might be helpful for you:
- Always have sneakers and workout apparel on you so you’re ready for a workout anytime the opportunity comes up.
- Plan and set small goals, it’s much easier to complete a workout if you have planned and prepared ahead of time.
- Use an accountability partner or program.
Keep in mind the holidays are supposed to be a fun time! Do your best to avoid stressors and take the pressure off a bit. It’s okay to eat the cookies and it’s okay to miss a workout if it means enjoying yourself.
Make Time for Self-Care
Alongside mental health comes self-care. Many of us put others first especially during the holidays, but this isn’t a healthy option if it means sacrificing your own health. Make sure you’re well rested and taken care of, so you can get the most from your selfless acts.
Make time for what you need, whether that be a nap, time to read a book, or the ability to indulge in a delicious meal.
Opt for Healthy Substitutes
Thankfully there are tons of options available when cooking and baking. If you’re in charge of a meal or appetizer, you can swap out some ingredients to a healthier or cleaner option.
Some common substitutes include:
Cinnamon tea instead of egg nog or hot chocolate
Fruit instead of candy
Avocado instead of heavy cream
Dark chocolate instead of white or milk chocolate
Sometimes the healthy option is to simply eat less of whatever sweet treat you have on your plate. It’s okay to eat sugars and fats and filling up on the real food can help you from going overboard at the dessert table.
Move When You Can
Holiday shopping? Take the stairs.
Babysitting the nephews? Walk around the block.
Working from home? Set a timer to get up and move, or opt for a standing desk.
The little things add up, and if you can move instead of sitting, that’s always the better option!
Set Realistic Expectations
Yes, again, set small goals! You are allowed to enjoy the holiday season and ease up on your otherwise year-round grind.
Setting goals will help you stay accountable and ready to keep your routine as close to normal as possible while making it simple to achieve.
Instead of goals like:
Keeping Holidays Healthy
By now, you should see the ability to create the healthy holiday season you are looking for. You may need to make a few tweaks to your usual, but with the help of mindfulness, goal setting, and holistic health in mind, you’re well on your way!