Some love it, others dread it. One thing’s for sure: we can’t avoid it, because the holiday season is upon us. With all of the holiday-related tasks we busy ourselves with, it can be daunting to make extra time to properly take care of ourselves.
The following tips will help you hold onto your health, sanity and maybe even your waistline and a few relationships this holiday season.
- Follow the 90-10 rule.
Many of us associate the holidays with our favorite comfort foods, some of which are less than healthy. It’s completely OK to indulge, if you follow one simple rule: 90% of the time, eat healthfully, and for the remaining 10%, go ahead and allow yourself some less healthy treats without any guilt at all. Just remember to listen to your body, and only eat and drink what you’ll truly enjoy. When the urge to overeat rears its ugly head, simply ask yourself: do I really want to eat this, or am I simply thirsty, hungry for better nourishment or for something else besides food (a hug, great conversation, a warm bath and some quiet time)? If you still feel like you really want that treat, then have it without reservations and enjoy every last bite. Food isn’t the enemy.
- Treat your kitchen like a sacred communal space.
It’s very difficult to make good food out of stressed energy. So walk into your kitchen with calm intention and only prepare what you really want to prepare, without the pressure of living up to anyone’s expectations, not even your own. Lighten your load by asking people to bring a dish to the party, and learn to delegate. Remember that the kitchen is the heart of a home, so when people stand around chatting with you while you cook, put them to work! Nobody should be in a kitchen without a job to do. Anyone can chop up vegetables, clean lettuce, or rinse grains. They’ll be glad to help, and you’ll feel supported.
- Give your baked goods a makeover.
Everyone loves irresistible holiday goodies such as cookies and pies, but consider experimenting with healthy and nutritious substitutions. Some baked goods taste just as great if they are made using gluten-free flours and coconut oil, instead of inflammatory refined wheat flour and vegetable oils (like sunflower, canola, corn, soy, etc.). Applesauce or ripe bananas can reduce the amount of sugar by half, and natural sugars like coconut palm sugar, maple syrup or raw honey are more nutritious and gentler on the body. The addition of oats, nuts, and whole grains into many batters will make baked goods more filling and nourishing, minimizing the desire to overeat.
- Keep healthy snacks accessible.
It’s easy to forget to nourish ourselves properly when we’re running around, preparing for the holidays. Unfortunately, this often leads to a frantic rush for quick sources of energy (think high fat, high sugar) later on in the day when we’re too frazzled to prepare anything healthy. So, remember to stay properly fueled throughout the day by keeping healthy snacks at the ready. Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies; chop them up and store them as soon as you get home. Make a couple of dips high in protein, like hummus, and keep them in the fridge ready to go, so quick and healthy snacks are always right at your fingertips.
- Resist the urge to hibernate…
There are plenty of opportunities to stay in shape that don’t involve a gym during the holidays. For example, you could try shoveling snow to make sure your path is clear; taking romantic walks to view the holiday lights in your neighborhood; bringing your pup to a dog park for a snowball fight; going with the family on a candlelight walk into town. Sure, the days are short and the weather is chilly, but your body still needs movement to thrive. Aim for at least thirty minutes of fresh-air activity each day and don’t forget to drink plenty of filtered water (or coconut water with chia seeds!) to stay hydrated.
- …but make sure you do rest.
Perhaps most importantly, make sure you get enough rest! Proper sleep and relaxation will help keep your immune system strong, as well as relieve stress. After a long day of holiday preparations, sip herbal tea, meditate, snuggle up with a book, or watch a classic holiday movie with your family. Take the time to wind down so you can get a full eight hours of quality shut-eye. Don’t feel obligated to do everything and see everyone. Choose activities that truly give you joy, and forget about obligations. Let your to-do list get finished tomorrow.