As September comes to an end, now is the time to lay the groundwork for a healthier holiday season. If you don’t count bad presents and that weird uncle that always gets drunk and causes a scene, three of the biggest holiday challenges are stress, getting sick, and holiday weight gain.
Here are 3 tips you need to know to not only survive the holidays, but THRIVE during them:
- Be proactive in setting a healthy intention for yourself over the holiday season. Being proactive includes tackling obstacles that have interfered in your healthy wishes in previous years. For example, it never fails that people give gifts of candy, cookies, pies and other high-sugar “treats” around the holidays. For people who are trying to stay healthy or make improvements to their health, these “gifts” can really sabotage their efforts. There’s a reason why those “treats” show up at work in the office: most of us are trying hard to avoid having them around the house! Let your friends and family know that you appreciate their generosity and also let them know if you are trying to stick to a plan over the holidays such as using alternative sweeteners to sugar or going low-carb and ask for their support. If they love you, which they do, they’ll want to help you and will realize that supporting you is the best gift. Keep your eyes open for classes offered at local health food stores for making gifts such as teas, aromatherapy, body care products or even cooking classes so you can make treats that people will want to keep around the house.
- Stock up on soup. Before the holiday madness really sets in, start making soup stock and putting it in the freezer. Nothing ruins holiday plans like getting a cold or the flu. Make a bunch of soup so you can eat it weekly throughout the holiday season to keep your immune system strong. (If you can’t make your own soup, buy fresh soup at local health food stores like New Leaf.) Two immune system whomping culprits are stress and sugar. We’ve already addressed the sugar component. To reduce physical and mental stress, try not to skimp too much on sleep, eat plenty of soup and fresh, organic foods, don’t leave all your holiday prep till the last minute and remember that the holidays are really about enjoying time with those you love.
- Write down 2-3 things you will do differently this year to avoid gaining weight over the holidays. Examples are finding healthier recipes for your favorite unhealthy holiday dishes (sugar and gluten substitutes for pies, vegetables, nuts and cheese instead of bread, crackers, and cookies); have a backup exercise plan (if you can’t get to the gym, go on bike rides or walks with the family or do strength training routines at home); and keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum (find other ways to manage stress like trying a yoga class).
What are your holiday survival strategies?