When I say “healthy”, I also mean balanced! Your holiday health plan should be personalized, non-restrictive, simple and doable.
All 10 of these tips will guide you in that direction.
How to create your personalized healthy holiday plan? Go through each tip, and circle your top 3 that feel important to you. You can choose more than 3, but please be honest with yourself about how committed you can be to following through. The tips you choose to implement should feel just outside of your comfort zone, but still achievable.
When the holidays are over and you are reflecting back… I want you to be in celebration of achieving your healthy holiday plan (maybe even going above and beyond) as opposed to feeling like you overcommitted and ended up in “I’ll just start in the New Year” mode. Don’t get me wrong, it’s plenty fine to have some New Year’s resolutions! And… life is now. Your body needs you to care for it today. Your body is asking for balance through every season.
Ok, without further ado… here are the TOP 10 TIPS for YOUR Healthy (and balanced) Holidays!
#1 – Travel with Healthy Snacks
Cool. Great idea Tess… now… just one thing… what is your definition of a “healthy” snack. Great question! When I use the term “healthy” in these tips, I want you to think of whole foods, as organic as possible, close to their natural state. So… nuts, seeds, whole fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, meats, poultry, fish, minimally processed, not a lot of additives, whole milk dairy, oils (olive, avocado, coconut)
Keep in mind, these are mere recommendations. I believe in bio-individuality; how one person eats may be completely different than another, yet they both feel great, check out as physically healthy, and live vibrantly. So no matter what your way of eating is… vegan, anything goes, paleo, etc. you can use these guidelines to fit what is already working for you, and see how you feel.
Traveling with healthy snacks helps avoid last-minute airport McDonald stops or ravenously overeating at dinner because you skipped lunch. My top go-to’s for snacks on the go are:
- Beauty Bar Chocolate (use code TESSIE20 for 20% off)
- Rx Bars – I like Cherry Chocolate!
- Perfect Bars
- Trader Joe’s Trail Mix single packs
- An apple or banana with nut butter
- A hard boiled egg with a string cheese and a handful of pretzels
- A hummus snack pack with carrot sticks or Trader Joe’s plantain chips
#2 – Plan your workouts ahead of time
Don’t feel like this means you have to go above and beyond of what you do now to workout. It also does not mean you need to miss out on important family bonding experiences in order to get your sweat in (more on that in the next tip).
Think of past holidays. Do you usually walk away feeling like you wish you would have moved more? Even just stretched, or walked, etc? Great! Now is your time to do things differently. And, it’s a practice, an experiment.
This WILL take some structure, intention, organization, communication, commitment and thought. And, it should also feel fun and totally doable. Maybe it’s a 20min run 1-2 mornings of the week. Perhaps you go on one walk and sign up for one fitness classes close to where you will be staying if traveling. Don’t just think about it. Actually put it in the books! Tell whoever you need to tell “this is what I’ll be doing from this time to this time.”
#3 – Be the invitation for movement. Involve the family. Incorporate accountability.
Sometimes the thought of saying “Peace out y’all, I’m going to do my own thing” when you’re in a family setting… doesn’t feel possible or convenient. One idea, is while you’re planning your exercise, why not reach out to the fam and see who wants to join!? In my experience, this in itself can actually turn into one of the bonding experiences you hope to come away with! The thing is, you are the one with the healthy intentions. You need to be the instigator. You need to be the invitation, the planner.
If you’ve never tried this, you might be surprised who ends up joining and being gung-ho about the whole thing!
#4 – Choose 1-2 meals a day that will be intentionally healthier
There goes that word again… healthy. This tip is something I use with clients no matter what when they go on vacation. It so beautifully allows for a balance between nourishing ourselves with a chosen healthy meal, and allowing for, giving ourselves permission to, heck, even making it a part of the plan to have 1 or 2 meals a day where the sweets, the carbs, the savory indulgences are “on the table” for options.
One way you can do this is to plan for the healthy-ish meal to always be breakfast, or lunch. Sometimes that’s helpful. And it’s negotiable as well. If you go out to breakfast and that french toast is calling your name. Make it a point to have a more whole-foods-based lunch.
*NOTE* It’s important not to confuse this tip with a trade-off mentality. I know it can sound a little bit like that; “if I eat ‘good’ for breakfast… I can have whatever I want for lunch.” Let me be clear! There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with food. There are higher and lower qualities of food. There are effects on how sugar processes and how a vegetable processes in our body. So yes, there are different outcomes with different food choices. However, it’s not about putting a morality on our choices like being “good/bad”. That, believe it or not… does NOT help us move toward desired health behaviors. Instead it keeps us stuck in a loop of negative self-talk, restriction, overeating, and yo yo-ing.
The reason for focussing on 1-2 intentionally healthier meals, is to practice our intentionality and empowered choices with food. It can help us to have a ‘plan’ in this sense, so not every decision turns into “Eff it! I might as well just eat everything and not even try.”
#5 – Volunteer to bring something (a healthy side, lower sugar dessert, or healthier alcohol choices)
The traditional holiday meal is beautiful for what it is… 2-3 different protein options, 7 sides, and 3 different types of pies! If you’d like to come away from the holiday feeling like you were able to indulge, and you also found some nutritious options, be the one to bring it!
Here are my favorite recipes for tasty, healthier alternatives to common Holiday fares:
- Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Green Beans
- I made this for a Friendsgiving, and added a few of the traditional fried onions on at the end. It was a big hit!
- Roasted Veggies
- A great option for a healthy side dish
- Gluten-Free Apple Crumble
- This is my go-to homemade dessert for any occasion actually! I leave out the xanthum gum, for the record.
- Paleo Pumkin Pie
- Dry Farm Wines
- Sugar-free, additive-free all natural wine and sparkling wine!
- Other Healthy Holiday Cocktails
#6 – Focus on eating protein and veggies first, then allow for the starchy carbs, dessert, and more.
This pulls in the concept I call “parenting ourselves” around food. This concept is actually a proven psychology tool to help us do adulting things 😉
With food, it means that moment when you just want to eat 5 rolls, all your mashers and a piece of pie first… take a deep breath, and ask yourself, what would I give a kid first? It’s NOT about telling ourselves we are “not allowed” to have the other stuff. It’s simply about being responsible to nourish ourselves with those macronutrients like protein, complex carbs and healthy fats before we dive in to the sugary treats and simple carb overloads.
This doesn’t have to be a “perfect.” It’s simply a practice. When you get your plate, focus on making a dent in the healthier veggies and your protein first.
#7 – No matter what… Eat Slow and Enjoy Your Food!
It doesn’t matter if we’re having the healthiest salad in the world, or a piece of pecan pie with 2 scoops of ice cream… if we eat fast, mindlessly, in a state of guilt, standing up, while emotionally negative… we are inhibiting our natural metabolism and digestion.
This is because eating while doing any of those things I just listed… puts our body in a stress response. Which pulls blood away from the belly, it shift our hormones out of balance with what we need for digestion. What we need is to “rest and digest”. So whatever it is you are eating. Sit down. Breathe. Enjoy it. Give thanks for it. Take in the joyful environment. The colors. The aroma. The sounds. Eat slow.
See what you notice. You might notice you’re more in tune with your appetite and fullness cues. You might notice the energy you’re given from the meal. You might notice you ate some things that would normally make your tummy hurt, but you feel fine.
#8 – Reset Your Environment
So a few days have gone by… you’re still eating pumpkin pie for breakfast and buttered rolls for lunch… this is very common. And it’s kind of a silent culprit to how our holiday overeating takes shape over a period of time, instead of just for a few days.
I’m definitely not suggesting to waste food. But, if it is your personal goal to try and eat more whole foods like 80-ish% of the time, it will help to get the treats mostly out of the house. Give them away. Try to plan portions accordingly, etc.
Remember, this is about staying connected to your personal goals, and finding your balance. If it starts to feel too restrictive, or like a “diet” give yourself a little more breathing room.
For example, when we make grandma Jane’s rolls at Thanksgiving and Christmas… you better believe we eat turkey sandwiches on them for days afterward, and we also make cinnamon buns with some of the dough. This is a tradition I don’t plan on giving up. In this case I use the same tools, to eat slow, enjoy them, and know that it’s just part of the season.
#9 – Create Space for Some ‘Me-Time’ Allowing for True Relaxation.
Ever go on vacation or holiday and feel more tired when you get home and it’s time to go back to work? Haha… me too! It’s ironic how that can happen. One thing I suggest, is amongst the chaos that can be family vacation and holidays, find a day, a half a day, a few hours at the very least, to take some time to yourself. Go for a walk. Go to the spa. Meditate. Take a bubble bath. Read. Take some time to reflect on your year as a whole.
#10 – Take time to reflect after the season.
Speaking of reflection… either way, after the holiday season, I want you to think back about this plan. Look at the 3 you circled to be part of your healthy holiday intentions. Ask yourself:
What went well? What worked? What am I proud of? What didn’t go as planned, or needs improvement? What would I do differently? How can I take what I learned and apply it to my health goals moving forward?
#11 – *BONUS* – Use this Approach to Gather Ideas for Your 2020 Health Goal Action Plan!
When we create a system of doable practices, with accountability and reflective assessment… we will be 90% more likely to follow through with our goals!
Was this helpful? If so, leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear which one is your favorite.
WANT ALL 10 TIPS ON A CHEAT SHEET?
I put an abbreviated version of all 10 tips (and a limited-time holiday bonus) on a one-sheet, so you can keep it handy on any device during this busy holiday season!