Tis the greatest season of all, the Holidays are here and this can mean a lot of things. More family, more food and an expanding waistline. That or crunching on carrot sticks while everyone you love eats that pecan pie. But I wonder, could we have a healthy holiday without changing what you eat? Get the tips inside this post!
Enjoy your pie and eat the ice cream with it. I just checked my temperature and no, I’m not sick, I’m telling you to enjoy your pie, and I’m including that in my holiday health tips. Of course, unusual ones, but maybe it’s time for a new story, new ideas, and ways to get healthy that don’t involve spending the holidays drooling over the buffet while munching on carrot sticks.
I mean, I have to believe that health is more than just elimination, restriction kind of thing. For Heaven sakes, we spent centuries enjoy pie made with lard, mashed potatoes with real cream, and here we are eliminating entire food groups as if that might fix our problem.
There is something more to gathering around the dinner table than just how many calories or carbs you’re consuming. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a ‘see-food’ diet, where you eat everything in sight. But I don’t want us to miss the idea that food is more than just nourishing our bodies, but the act of eating, especially around the dinner table over laughter and good conversation, nourishes more than our body but our mind and soul as well.
And it’s here in the middle of the mind, body, and soul that we find health. So let us get back to that this year. And remember it’s less about what we eat and more what our body does with it that matters.
So this year’s guide to healthy holiday eating comes from a place of focusing less on the what and more on how your body uses it. It focuses less on stress and more on joy. What the holidays are supposed to be about.
Know what Health Looks Like For You
There are a hundred different and yet similar definitions of health. And while I think they are accurate, I don’t think they are specific. And maybe that’s why this whole health thing is so hard; we don’t have a clear vision of what we’re after? So ask yourself, what does health mean to me? That’s the big change – it’s what it means to you – regardless of what has worked for someone else or what everyone else is doing.
Create a vision of what health looks like and then set that besides how you’re currently living. Ditch anything that doesn’t align with that vision.
Release Restriction and Set Intentions
Playing the restriction and deprivation game is a vicious cycle. Once you get on it, you’ll find yourself repeating it; restrict, binge, guilt, repeat. Rather than looking at food as good or bad, be mindful of what is nourishing for you. Once we can set aside the idea that food is either “good” or “bad,” then we can start to see food and other lifestyle activities through the lens of what is good or bad for me.
Trade-in willpower for mindfulness.
Go in with a plan – not to restrict but to enjoy and do more of what makes you feel nourished. Which means you pay attention to how different things make you feel.
Establish Nourishing Routines
We all have daily rhythms – it’s our way of life and is comprised mostly of activities that stem from our unconscious. The things we do without thinking. These routines or rhythms are the golden ticket to making health who you are, not just what you do. Take your vision of what health looks like for you and start to make the simple shifts in your daily routine to create nourishing rhythms.
Be consistent with them. Staying on course with what fills you up – even on the busiest days of the holidays. Use a good morning routine to keep you grounded and an evening routine to help you unwind and get a good night’s sleep.
Unconscious eating gets us all, but there are ways to reduce it without restricting it. The most critical way to end grazing is to get food out of your head. It’s not as impossible as you might think. You see, the more we restrict or feel shame or guilty, the more our mind is going to trigger thoughts of binging, of munching and eating all the things no amount of willpower can stop us from. It’s mostly a mindset thing. Once you end the food arguments going on in your mind and you stop thinking so much about food, you’ll realize that you don’t need as much food.
Of course, the other reason you graze is that you’re hungry – so make sure you don’t go hungry. Eat meals and enough at meals to sustain you. Keep yourself well fed. Put food on a plate and sit down to enjoy it.
be mindful of what you’re eating
I just told you to eat your pie and have your ice cream – and I honestly believe that is better than wishing you could eat it, drooling over it, and yet depriving yourself of it. In the end, this triggers a chemical response that works against you rather than for you – so you might as well eat the pie and ice cream.
But for health sake, you have to be mindful outside of how it tastes and look at how it makes you feel. You might find that when you focus less on what you can’t have, you can start to focus on how it makes you feel. Enjoy foods you love, but be mindful of how they make you feel and eat more of those things.
embrace food pushers and food shamers
We’ve all encountered them – the ones who hate the fact that you’re so mindful and intuned to your body that you eat what you need and enjoy every bite of it. Don’t let their insecurities wear you out, and don’t let them steal your energy. It just isn’t worth it. Shake off the comments, stand up for yourself, and don’t allow other people the reason you didn’t stick to your health goals this year.
honor your fullness
Overeating at the holidays seems to be an unspoken tradition. I used to think it was a right of passage, that somehow if you didn’t have to unbutton your pants, the cook went wrong. The truth is, you don’t have to feel stuffed to feel satisfied. It’s quite a myth that somehow we’ll never get this delicious food again, so we must gorge ourselves on it.
But one of the most caring and loving things you can do for yourself is to honor your fullness. To trust that enough is enough before enough is too much. I promise there will always be another meal loaded with delicious food.
If you are full but feel tempted to fill your plate again, try sipping on some hot tea or sparkling water to get you by.
I can’t press this one enough – stress is the enemy. Not your body or your hormones or that bag of chips you just ate. And it’s not that we can use stress as an excuse, but it is an explanation. While we can’t get rid of stress, because that’s human life, we can learn ways to manage it or lessen it, and THIS must become a priority. Here are a few essential de-stressing practices to note.
- Honor your sleep. When we are sleep deprived, everything else goes out the window.
- Time in solitude. Whether you journal, pray or read, even just 5 minutes in the morning to pause and start the day off on a calm, positive note makes a huge difference.
- Exercise. Schedule it in, as if it were an appointment you can’t miss. Physical activity isn’t about calorie burning or “earning pie.” Do this for your mood, mental clarity, energy, and overall happiness.
- Relax. Carve out some YOU time and feel into what brings you joy and relaxation. Do yoga, get a massage, take a hot bath with essential oils, read a book, drink a cup of herbal tea, or start a puzzle. Avoid multitasking and sink into the activity that fills you up.
It’s not just about more self-care practices – because let’s face it trying to fit self-care as we know it can be stressful in itself. But it’s learning how can I honor and respect my body, giving to it what it needs so that it can function in health.
enjoy the holidays
For real, enjoy the holidays, the food, the company, the presents, and the drama. It is what makes the holidays memorable and special. But at the same time, don’t wait for January. Your diet doesn’t have to start when the perfect week hits – because this is life, and there is no such thing as perfection.
Rather than aligning your life with your diet, you have to align your health with your life. Create healthy rhythms, one little simple shift at a time. And by all means, remember you can eat whatever you want and in that you get to choose foods that make you feel fantastic.
If you want to eat a piece of the pie, great, slow down, savor, and ENJOY IT.