We all went to sleep Halloween night in a haze of sugar and face paint only to wake the next morning to the full-on holiday season!
Starbucks winter-themed cups, spooky store decorations replaced with pine scented candles and Christmas commercials are once again on every channel…like it or not, the holidays are here! While there are plenty of reasons to be excited this season, the unhealthy habits that often come with are a bit disheartening.
The good news is that you can still enjoy all the holiday fun without compromising your mental and physical health…it just takes some determination, a game plan and a bit of willpower.
Here are some of my favorite tips for enjoying all the season has to offer without going overboard.
1. Separate emotion from food
Like it or not, often we eat for reasons unrelated to hunger. Emotional eating is a common occurrence around the holidays. Sometimes we eat out of boredom, other times out of sadness or even because we are happy to be surrounded by the ones we love. This season, take time to figure out what you are feeling. If you are stressed, take a walk. If you are tired, take a nap. While this sounds like a no-brainer, the stress of the season can make it difficult for us to take the few moments we need to figure out our feelings. Turning to food for comfort will only lead to more emotional unrest in the long run.
2. Take time to eliminate stress
If you have a house full for the holidays, taking time for you may seem impossible…but it’s NOT. You need to take time out for your emotional well-being. You are no good to your guests if you are burning the candle at both ends. Whatever stress release looks like to you, make time for it. Read a book, take a bath, write in a journal, workout – whatever makes you feel calm, collected and ready to face the art of entertaining.
3. Drink a glass of water prior to mealtime
Mealtimes can be one of the greatest parts of the holiday. Traditional feasts abound but it can be very easy to overdo it. Try drinking a glass of water prior to eating your meal. It’s common for our brain to process thirst as hunger and overeat to compensate. Additionally, with the water taking up room in your stomach, you will feel satiated faster.
Endorphins are excellent for increasing your energy level and elevating your mood. Don’t think you have time? Make it a family affair. Big meals have a tendency to make everyone sleepy. Bundle up, step outside and take a walk around the block. This is a great way to combine socializing with exercising and around the holidays exercise can really be beneficial.
5. Don’t go to holiday parties hungry
Much the same as going grocery shopping when hungry can spell disaster, going to a party while hungry can wreak havoc. With your stomach growling non-stop, even the fruit cake begins to look appealing! Skipping meals to make room for a large feast is one of the worst things you can do for your metabolism. Not only does it slow down but then overeating will make you feel overly full and uncomfortable. Eat a snack (something high in protein and healthy fibers) prior to heading out. You will then be able to snack in a more controlled manner and focus on fun and socializing rather than easing your hunger.
6. Don’t go overboard on the alcohol
Most of us have been guilty of overindulging every now and again. Have a game plan when it comes to consuming alcohol and set a limit for yourself. Depending on the situation, holiday parties can sometimes be stressful. You may not know anyone there or perhaps you are forced to spend hours with your in-laws who make you inherently nervous. Many times in these situations people turn to alcohol as a crutch to “take the edge off.” Avoid making this rather hasty decision. If you feel awkward without a drink in your hand, try a spritzer water with lemon or lime. You’ll still feel festive…without wearing a lampshade on your head. It’s a win-win.
7. Stay hydrated
Drinking water is important no matter the season and while perhaps you remember more to hydrate when it is hot out, hydrating in the fall and winter months is just as important. If you are on the run, be sure to pack a water bottle with you and make yourself use it. Remember that once you start to feel thirsty, you are already in the beginning stages of dehydration.
8. Stay as close to your normal routine as possible
While this may sound tricky, try and stay close to your normal routine. If you can get up around the same time as normal and plan meals times, you will have a more solid structure to craft your day around and will feel more grounded as a result.
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