As the holiday season rolls around we get so busy fulfilling the gift list, shopping, cooking and attending parties that our healthy habits can fall by the wayside. We can’t control what’s on every holiday menu we encounter but we can control our behavior with and around those menus. When food choices are outside of your control, here are a few healthy tips you can implement to help you honor your commitment to maintain health during the holiday season.
Healthy Tip #1: Set an Intention: Before heading out to a holiday feast or party take just a moment and make a commitment to yourself of what you will eat. Creating a mental plan of what you will do, or won’t do, can help you stick to your daily healthy routines. Just thinking before you walk out the door or sit down at the table, how much you plan to enjoy each bite, savor any sweet or enjoy any drink. Enjoy it so much that one is enough. Setting your mind like a clock to what you want will help you feel great at the end of the night.
Healthy Tip #2: Maintain Balance: When I say balance here, I mean blood-sugar balance. Whether it’s long days shopping, cooking or readying ourselves for the next gathering we want to maintain our regular meal schedule as much as possible as this will help us avoid overindulging. Not eating all day before the dinner party won’t help you when it comes time to manage overdoing it. And if the scale tips in that way after all, then accept it and move on. No holiday should be served with a side of guilt!
Healthy Tip #3: Slow Down: If you are the “chief cook and bottle washer” at your home then it’s do doubt that you may feel like you’re in a holi-daze. When shopping, cooking, decorating, and rushed holiday bustling fills your days and nights, before you take that first bite of each meal remember to slow down. Use deep breathing to change your body’s state. As you prepare your plate and sit at your table, take 3 slow, deliberate inhales and exhales to shift from the rushed sympathetic state (fight/flight) to the parasympathetic state (rest/digest). This brief activity will enhance your digestive process.
Healthy Tip #4: Have a Green Day: Typical holiday meals consisting of bird meat, potatoes and sweetened squash dishes don’t always include a green veggie. And if they do, chances are they may be smothered in sauce. However, if you can incorporate some greens, raw or lightly sautéed, in your other meals during the day, you won’t be missing out on precious vitamins and minerals. There are so many benefits to getting in some green with each meal. Greens help our good gut bacteria, assist in hydration, boost energy, enhance skin, and help with weight management just to name a few. Give coconut oil sautéed spinach a try with eggs in the morning and a hearty salad of sorts for lunch. This way when holiday dinner comes around you can enjoy each bite thinking about the 80/20 rule, knowing you’ve already incorporated greens throughout the day.
Healthy Tip #5: Chew, Chew, Chew: Contrary to the saying, “we are what we eat” we now know it’s more like, “we are what we absorb.” We need food for survival but the body doesn’t use food, it uses nutrients. It’s our job to get the food we eat into molecular-sized particles so the cells in our body can use it for energy. One of the ways we do that is by chewing. Problem is, a lot of the food choices we make these days don’t require a lot of chewing to begin with… think burger versus salad. If we are making the right choices, the chewing is simply required. It’s recommended we chew 30 times per bite.
While it can be true that making healthy food choices during the holidays can be a challenge, it’s not always only about the food we eat but how we eat it. Choose a healthy holiday behavior when you’re not in control of what’s on the menu. Take on these actions and there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll feel better during the holiday season.
Need help instituting healthy habits? Check out the group nutrition education class I teach called The RESTART® Program. Restart your mind, body and palate in just 5-weeks! More info: http://www.yourhealthpath.com/restart/