7 Tips to Prepare for the Holiday Season
Maybe this sounds familiar….The holiday season has once again arrived and this year you promise yourself it will be different. You head into the holidays with the best of intentions....You'll be “good”, won't overindulge at holiday dinners and parties and won’t let stress get the best of you.
But, all of your best intentions fall by the wayside. You're nose-deep in pumpkin pie and stuffing on Thanksgiving and wondering how to manage the stress of family, work and kids and the abundance of holiday food.
Surviving the holidays can be challenging, but it can also be manageable. So, this year I want to make sure you're equipped with the tools to get you through the holiday season more relaxed and managing your health goals with ease.
Here are seven tips to help you over the coming months.
Start the day with a healthy breakfast. What you eat for your first meal sets the tone for the day. For example, starting your day with a donut and coffee increases your chances for an afternoon crash and sugar cravings. Instead, opt for a protein smoothie or other balanced breakfast that includes protein, fiber and healthy fat. This will help stabilize blood sugar levels, mood and keep you feeling full.
Move more. This doesn't mean spending hours in the gym. You can simply go for a walk. But, make a commitment to move daily. Exercise promotes the release of hormones that improves mood, reduces feelings of anxiety and helps control appetite.
Prioritize Sleep. Get at least 7-9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep each night. Proper sleep helps restore emotional regulation, lower cortisol levels (your primary stress hormone) and enhances overall mood and immunity. Aiming for 7-9 hours each night allows your body and brain to repair and re-energize.
Relaxation. Stress raises the hormone cortisol, and when cortisol is elevated you have a harder time sleeping, losing weight and fighting off infection.
One of the most important things you can do to help manage stress is to make time each day for relaxation. Things like deep breathing exercises, meditation and nature walks are excellent tools for stress management. They help nourish the nervous system, boost immunity and mood.
Hydration. Dehydration can often be mistaken for feelings of hunger. So, you may be reaching for food when your body needs fluids. When you are dehydrated you may also experience fatigue and headaches. To stay hydrated, I recommend starting your day with two glasses of water first thing in the morning. Then keep a water bottle with you during the day to make sure you remember to drink water throughout the day.
Prepare ahead of time. Before you head out for your holiday dinner or party, have a healthy snack or meal. Don't show up hungry or you're bound to eat everything in sight. Opt for something light with protein, healthy fat and fiber. Yes, you hear me say this often because it keeps your blood sugar levels stable, fights cravings and hunger. This can be an apple with nut butter or veggies and protein for example.
If you have food allergies or sensitivities like me, you can come prepared with your own food if the host will not be offering anything you can eat.
Dessert? If you want dessert, have it. I don't recommend depriving yourself. Deprivation can lead to cravings and overeating. For dessert, you can opt for the three bite rule (take three healthy bites of whatever you want and move on), share a dessert or have a small piece of whatever you desire. If you treat a holiday meal as it's meant to be, one meal, then it's not going to sabotage your health goals. More often than not, the issue people run into is one holiday meal that turns into holi-meals.
Be kind to yourself. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and remember to take it easy over the coming months. If you need a break, take one. If you feel overwhelmed, slow down. If you're taking on too much, say NO to something on your calendar. If you eat too much at one meal, eat healthy at the next meal.
Prioritize you. Prioritizing your health is not selfish, it's self-care!
If you need more help managing the holidays and your health, contact me below or pass this on to someone you care about!
To your health & happiness,
I hope you find these tips helpful. Now, I'd like to hear from you. What helps you prepare for the holiday season?