In this season of parties, treats and homemade goodies, it is often difficult to think about healthy choices, when in fact this is probably the most crucial time of year to make sure we feed our bodies appropriately. It is more the onslaught of refined sugars that dispose us to colds than it is the cold weather. But I digress. I believe that life is about balance, so here are a few of my tips for having a healthy holiday without feeling like you're missing out.
1. If you're attending an event with no healthy, whole food choices, eat a vegetable and nutrient-dense dinner before you go. Think quality protein, some good fat & lot of vegetables. That way you will be full and satisfied and less likely to make poor decisions on an empty stomach.
2. Decide in advance if you are going to allow yourself a treat, and limit yourself to that treat only.* We eat really clean 99% of the time, but we allow for kicking up our heels and indulging a bit as well. So if I know my mom is making her award-winning homemade peach ice cream, I make sure I'm feeding my body lots of nutritious things before I head over. I know I'll have a little bowl, and I limit myself to just that. (NOTE: For me specifically, any indulgences are gluten-free. I know that gluten causes me bad headaches, and even the best pumpkin pie just isn't worth it.)
3. Instead of adding sugary, flavored creamer to your coffee, choose whole milk or, even better, drink it black, especially if it is paired with a slice of pie. Also, don't drink caffeine after noon. If you opt for coffee in the afternoon, make sure to choose decaf.
4. Walk it off. Take a walk before a meal, a party, or at the beginning of the day. Take a walk when you get home from a gathering. Especially take a walk if you over-indulged. It will not only help you physically, but it will improve your mental state and lower glucose levels. Make it a tradition to have a family walk on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Do some yoga, pilates, a barre class, a met con, just do something! Whatever and whenever you do it, just get out there and move!
5. Don't forget about sleep. Especially this time of year when our schedules get hectic, make sure to get good rest. Choose a dark, cool environment and comfortable clothes. Bonus points for waking up without an alarm. We try to allow ourselves this at least on the weekends, but even that little bit of extra rest can do wonders for your body + mind!
Here's to a healthy + happy holiday!
*Disclaimer: I don't think this approach works for everyone. For some people it is better to completely forgo any indulgences. The whole thing about food is that it is a very individualized process, and you have to know yourself and what works best for you.