Navigating the Holidays
It’s the end of November (already!), which means that the holidays are just around the corner. As much as I LOVE this time of year, I don’t love how I feel once it’s all over. While I try not to completely fall off the nutrition wagon throughout the month of December, I always find it incredibly challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle with all the treats, holiday parties, drinks, and social engagements that comes with it.
As I’m sure you can relate, the majority of my social events throughout the season revolve around food and drink, and to be honest, that is exactly what I love about this time of year. Spending time with family and friends, laughing, cooking, baking, sharing recipes, eating, drinking, making mulled wine – it’s exactly what I love about the holidays. That being said, I know that I love the season even more when I’m feeling my absolute best as well. Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years and I that try to follow every time the holidays roll around:
Remember your goals but be realistic
Although I am all for sticking to your goals and being dedicated, there are times throughout the year when you have to be a little bit flexible – the holidays being one of them. If you are typically someone who has many social gatherings, parties, after-work-drinks, family events and friends Christmas’, then sticking to your dietary guidelines is going to be incredibly challenging. I am not saying you should throw all caution to the wind and dive head first into the eggnog, but what I am saying is to be flexible with your rules in order to be present and enjoy yourself this holiday season. Allow yourself one glass of wine, one marshmallow snowman, or one peppermint mocha and be content knowing that you can enjoy yourself and stick to your goals throughout this festive time.
Bring your own food
If you are heading to a potluck at some point this season, then your odds might already be in your favour with this one. Even if it’s not a potluck you’re attending, reach out to the host and offer to bring a dish that fits in with your nutrition or dietary guidelines. (Chances are, they’ll be so grateful you offered.) Being a vegetarian, I always use potlucks as an opportunity to whip up one or two fancy plant-based dishes and ‘wow’ the crowds, especially those who like to tell me that not eating meat is crazy-talk. Plus, as a bonus, now I know that I’m good to go for the night and won’t go hungry. It’s a win-win.
Eat regularly, and don’t skip meals to prepare for a social gathering
I have found myself guilty of this one in the past; now I know better. Skipping meals in the day because you know you are going to ‘indulge’ at dinner is not a great plan and may actually end up backfiring. If you are heading to a social gathering hungry because you’ve skipped breakfast, lunch and all of your usual snacks, your body is not only going to be very confused, but also crave anything it can get its hands on – including all of the rich, decadent, sugary, dairy-filled food that is being served at your work holiday party.
Instead, eating small, regular meals throughout the day will keep your energy levels high, your blood sugar levels stable and your body content. Making sure these small meals are well-balanced, with the right amount of carbs, protein and fat, will mean that when you do head to any social events, your body will be satisfied, and you can indulge in one or two treats without going completely overboard.
Exercise and movement is your best friend
This one is huge for me, as I am sure it is for many of you as well. When I am sticking to my regular exercise routine of weight training and running, I automatically want to make healthier choices with my nutrition. I am driven and motivated to fuel my body with the best, most nutritious foods in order to continue to feel my best when I am working out. Knowing this about myself, I make an extra effort around the holidays to get my workouts in and stay active; even if all that means is going on a long walk with my family puppy. If this resonates with you, then continue to make your workouts a priority over the holidays. (Check out this blog post with some great tips on how to stay active with a busy schedule.)
In addition to this, regular exercise and movement (bonus points if it’s outdoors) helps to promote digestion and keep things moving, something we all need around this time of year. As I mentioned previously, taking my family puppy for a long walk is such a great way for my whole family to be active, walk off that heavy dinner or brunch, and spend some quality time together. I’ll cheers to that!
Remind yourself how eating a certain way makes you feel
This one is more of a mental trick then a physical one, and can take some practice, especially if you’re someone who has the “screw it, Christmas only happens once a year” mentality. Firstly, we all know that the holiday’s span much more than just one day, so if you allow yourself to think that way every time you’re celebrating the season, chances are you won’t be feeling great before Christmas even hits. Secondly, while balance and allowing some flexibility is healthy, especially for your mental state, if a certain food does more harm than good, then it’s definitely a worth it to stay clear.
Before diving into that wheel of brie, think back and remember how that specific food made you feel the last time you ate it. If you’re like me and overdoing it on gluten and dairy leaves you feeling sick, bloated, in pain, tired and foggy, then chances are you may want to avoid it and enjoy your festivities instead.
Pack healthy snacks
This one is self-explanatory, but equally as important. If you know you are incredibly busy throughout this time of year, then make sure you set yourself up for success. If prepping full meals to take with you seems a bit much, then pack yourself some awesome on-the-go snacks instead.
Some great examples are: nut and seed mix, homemade muffins, protein shake, veggies and hummus, fruit like apples, bananas and clementine’s, and homemade breakfast bars.
Do you have any tricks that you follow to help you navigate the holidays? Comment below and let us know!