Happy Healthy Holidays
Christmas - my favourite holiday - is fast approaching! Can you believe Christmas Day is less than a month away now?! This means your holiday season of parties, treats, and gift-giving will soon be in full swing (if it isn’t already!). The Christmas season is typically an indulgent time marked by great deviations from routine. The spontaneity and excitement are enjoyable and rejuvenating, but adhering to healthy habits and routines becomes difficult. Don’t let the holidays de-rail your healthy habits or reverse the progress you’ve made toward your goals. There’s a lot you can do to stay on track and indulge in moderation.
Schedules full of holiday parties, school concerts, party-host preparations, and gift selections can make staying active difficult. This is unfortunate since regular activity is a foundational aspect of overall health, but also because activity and exercise are great stress relievers! Not that anyone finds the holidays stressful…
Tips for incorporating activity into your holiday season:
Maintain your regular exercise routine as best you can. You are worthy of self-care, which includes activity. Movement has many benefits for your health: stress management, digestive regulation, improved sleep, mood regulation, and increased mental clarity, among others. If you need to modify your routine, remember that something is better than nothing. Even a 10-minute walk outside is beneficial!
Enjoy an outdoor adventure instead of coffee or drinks out with friends. You’ll probably have more fun too!
Ask for experiential gifts or exercise/adventure equipment to motivate you to stay active.
EXPERIENCES INSTEAD OF OBJECTS
So many people have all the objects they need already and pick up items they want when the mood strikes. Gone are the days when people saved-up, used lay-away, or waited patiently for desired items to show up under the tree. Most of the people in my life have the things they need or want already. This makes sharing activities rather than buying and exchanging gifts even more desirable.
Consider giving experiences instead of objects for gifts. Some suggestions to consider:
Snowshoeing – The local mountains have some great snowshoe trails for all experience levels. You’ll have to dress warmly but I bet you’ll work up a sweat. And you’re usually rewarded with some beautiful views!
Skiing, snowboarding, or tubing – We are blessed to live in an area with several mountains close-by. These activities are great for the whole family!
Christmas Activities – Light displays, craft fairs, and other Christmas events can help you feel festive and will get you enjoying a long walk without realizing.
Ice Skating– Robson Square has festive and free outdoor skating (if you bring your own skates) and many other ice rinks offer public skating sessions.
And BONUS – you’ll get some fresh air and share some laughs in the process!
Alcohol proves to be a big hurdle for many dieters (not just over the holidays). And countless Christmas parties encourage an extra drink or two which don’t help the cause. We’ve all heard the statement, “don’t drink your calories”. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram without any nutritional value, meaning they’re empty calories. It also lowers your inhibitions which can encourage munching on foods you would otherwise avoid (either in type or quantity). It’s important to limit the sugar content of your drinks which spikes blood sugar and insulin levels, promoting weight gain. Moderation is key and an all-out ban of alcohol typically isn’t required. So, which drinks are better choices?
Enjoy dry wines (especially reds) or clear spirits (eg. vodka) mixed with soda water and lemon and lime juice.
Sweeter drinks (white wines, ciders, coolers) contain more sugar. Dry wines have less.
Hard liquors/spirits have fewer calories than wine or beer per serving, especially clear liquors. Although, sweetened mixers can quickly exceed the calories in a wine or a beer. Mix hard liquors with soda water instead of other soft drinks or fruit juices which spike blood sugar levels quickly and significantly, or use half soda water and half fruit juice.
CHRISTMAS PARTY BLOAT
It’s easy to over-indulge at holiday events. There are just so many tasty treats out! But this can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable, or frustrated that you really fell off the healthy-eating-wagon once the new year rolls around. Again, moderation is key. You should enjoy the Christmas season, and if that means enjoying a few extra cookies and drinks – enjoy!
Tips for avoiding the Christmas party bloat:
Eat before the party. Arriving hungry means you’ll likely eat whatever is out. If you eat before going, you’re less likely to eat things besides a treat here or there.
Bring a healthier dish to potlucks so you know there’ll be at least one thing you feel really good about eating at the event.
Eat healthy the rest of the week at home.This way, a few party treats count towards your 20% (if you’re adhering to the 80/20 rule which means you follow your healthy eating 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time).
Set clear boundaries for yourself. I’m an all-or-nothing person when it comes to diet cheats. I find it incredibly easy to consider an entire day a free-for-all once I deviate from my typical eating. If you’re like me, you need to decide before you’re confronted with a table of goodies just how indulgent you’d like to be that night.
If you do over-indulge (it happens to the best of us!), give yourself some grace and restart. You can ease any uncomfortable physical symptoms of over-indulgence with:
A cup of soothing digestive tea. The herbs peppermint, fennel, and chamomile are called “carminatives” which calm spasms and ease digestive discomfort.
Topical peppermint essential oil rolled over your abdomen in a clockwise direction (the same direction that your intestines move your food) which soothes abdominal discomfort and reduces bloating. I always turn to my @sajewellness Peppermint Halo roller (a mix of peppermint and other essential oils).