The holidays are a magical time of year full of love, tradition, and being with the people we love most in the world. However, it can also be that time of the year where our deep belief in the value of a healthy balanced lifestyle can be a bit knocked off its rocker as aromatic casseroles, fluffy pies, and clinking glasses of holiday cocktails surround you at all twists, turns, and celebrations.
While I am sure we can all agree that the food does not make or break the value of a holiday celebration, finding balance and moderation in the dietary indulgences that surround the holiday season are a challenge to many people. If you are one of those people *raises hand and waves it back and forth fiercely*, read on and go into those holiday parties with a game plan for practicing the balance and moderation part of healthy living.
1 // Only eat things you really want instead of eating everything.
Oh man. There is so much amazing looking food on that buffet table, how could you possibly pick just a few? And you aren’t a huge fan of Aunt Nancy’s sweet potato pie, but you don’t want to offended her by NOT taking a slice. Guys, this kind of thinking leads to overstuffed bellies, unbuttoned pants, and a general feeling of “yuck” as your body tries to process way more food than it needs (and probably more sugar, starches and fats than it needs too). As tempting as it is to over-indulge during the holidays, survey the spread and select a handful of things you REALLY want to enjoy. Worst case is that you can go back for seconds if you’re still hungry or can’t get a dish off your mind that you simply must try. And if you take a bite of something and don’t love it, don’t feel obligated to eat it.
2 // Make time for movement.
Park really far away from the store and walk the extra distance (and save time circling for a close spot). Take your best friend up on that invite to go for a hike. Relax with a hot yoga class. Go for a starlit walk after a big holiday meal. Whatever you do, remember to keep your body moving and grooving the way it likes best. Movement will help make sure you stay moving in the bathroom (nothing kills the holiday fun like a stomachache), will burn off some of the extra indulgences you’re enjoying, and will help you stay in the right frame of mind for keeping your holidays intentionally healthy and balanced.
3 // Recreate holiday favorites in healthier ways.
If you love love love pumpkin pie and simply can’t imagine a holiday season without it, than find a version that uses healthier ingredients. You don’t have to skip on your favorite edible treats when enjoying a healthy and balanced holiday, just look for ways to make it less negatively impactful on your body. Pinterest is loaded with healthy ideas! Get pinning and revamping! However, with that said….
4 // Consider skipping trigger foods altogether.
My mom’s chocolate cream pie is my kryptonite. I love it deeply, but one taste puts me in a tailspin of unhealthy overly indulgent choices. So, I opt to skip it at the holidays (with my mother’s understanding blessing). With so many other indulgences around, I opt for goodies that won’t make me lose my healthy mind. Does that mean I never get to have my beloved cream pie ever again? No way! I request it for my birthday instead, when I have less treats to stare down and can enjoy my favorite treat without going off the deep end.
5 // Use healthy “mocktails” to help limit alcohol.
Alcohol is fun and yummy, but offers zero nutritional benefit to body. So enjoy it in moderation (and remember to have a DD lined up before the wine starts flowing). If you opt out of booze altogether or want to pace your intake, find some healthy fun substitutions to put in your fancy holiday glass. I personally love kombucha for a healthy sparkling drink but I’ll also make a quick mocktail with a little fruit juice and some sparkling water! If you really want to get fancy, there are lots of mocktail recipes out there that you can go wild with.
6 // Bringing healthy dishes to share at potlucks.
If you’re headed to a potluck and you have no idea what kind of food will be waiting for you, bring a dish or two to share that you can feel good about eating. Salads or soups are always a hit or I’ll bring a fresh berry salad with homemade whipped coconut cream for a healthy dessert. That way, you can relax and enjoy foods that you know you feel good about eating and your hostess will appreciate that you contributed to the gathering.
I am personally a big believer in never turning down a meal made in celebration of love and togetherness, but the holidays can (and should) be enjoyed with balance and moderation in mind. You will feel better mentally and physically and will go into the new year feeling like your healthy wonderful self.
Taesha is a wife, mother, and teacher based in San Diego. She aims to use her website, TheNaturalNurturer.com, to inspire people towards a healthy lifestyle through her family-friendly recipes and tips. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.