The holiday season is a time to relax, both physically and mentally. Allowing yourself to enjoy the cosy atmosphere, your company, and the food. However, I know first hand how difficult it can be to put this into practice.
This time of year is full of festive get togethers, and with them comes a lot of food, sweets, and eating. For some, these Christmas traditions are cause for anxiety. Once Christmas has passed, you might find yourself feeling like you’ve overdone it, perhaps even believing you’re a “failure” for eating too much.
If you find yourself struggling to let go and to give yourself the permission slip you need to enjoy the holiday season, then the following guidelines on how to stay healthy during the holidays is for you. It is possible to prevent the anxiety from getting to you in the first place. These simple tools will keep the guilt or regret you normally feel at bay.
How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Drink plenty of water
Thirst can sometimes come off as hunger. In order to be able to accurately interpret the signals your body is giving you, make sure you are properly hydrated. Top up your glass of water and drink plenty throughout the day and with your meals. If you’re exercising, drinking alcohol or a lot of coffee, you should be drinking even more water. Remember the rule: at least one glass of water between every glass of alcohol (or coffee).
Go for a walk
With time off from work or school, and enough hours spent lazying around at home, there’s plenty of occasion for long walks. In fact, a long walk is often just what you’ll need to feel reenergised after too many hours of sluggish hanging around. Exercise will give you new energy and get those endorphins pumping.
I love going for a walk on Christmas Day when everyone else has fled the town or are cooped up inside. I enjoy the emptiness and quiet of the city, even better when I can walk through a park or forest in the snow and observe the silence.
A Christmas feast usually means a table full of some of our favorite foods, tempting and overwhelming us with a desire to eat everything. It’s not strange that we go a little bit nuts and sometimes end up eating too much around Christmas.
One way to counteract ending on the sofa with our jeans unbuttoned is to eat slowly. Eating slowly is eating mindfully, which will help you register and listen to the cues your body is giving you to stop when you are full.
If you find it particularly difficult to eat slowly, using a small plate might help. You can always go back for seconds if you still feel hungry. Plate the things you love the most first, enjoy your food, and drink plenty of water with your meal. And if you’re still hungry? Then definitely go back for more!
Pause between portions
After you’ve finished the first round of the Christmas feast, pause for a little while and let it set in. It takes a while for our mind and body to catch up with each other and tell us that we’re full. So enjoy the conversation around the table, sip your drink and appreciate the company and love from the friends and family surrounding you.
Focus on something other than the food
Wherever you are for Christmas, the house is bound to be stocked more full of food, and sweets, than usual. Perhaps you feel like there’s always a plate of cookies or a box of chocolates under your nose. Do what you can to zone out from the focus around food. Read a book, watch a movie, write in your journal, do some yoga, or go for a walk. And don’t forget to take the opportunity to hang out with and enjoy the company of your loved ones.
There’s always leftovers
I know very few holiday occasions when there aren’t an abundance of leftovers. And that’s a good thing to remind yourself of when you’re feeling like you want to eat everything because who knows when you’ll get the chance to eat your favourite holiday dishes again?
Well, tomorrow and the day after that, and probably for at least a week following Christmas, you’ll have leftovers to nibble on if you feel like it. So don’t stress trying to eat as much as possible on Christmas day.
Besides, if you can’t stand the thought of not getting to eat your favourite dish again for a year, then there’s no rules that say you can’t cook or bake that treasured dish of yours at some other time in the year. Christmas dinner in June? Go for it! I’m not here to judge.
You’re not ruining anything by eating a little bit more
Listen, it might feel like eating a couple of big meals over the Holidays is going to ruin everything. Like the hard work you’ve put in at the gym, or your waistline, or fitting into your favourite jeans. Look at the bigger picture: you’ve got over three hundred and sixty days of the year when you’re probably eating healthy and good portions, so a couple of bigger meals and sweets aren’t going to ruin anything. And just think of the energy boost it’ll give your next workout!
As a final point, I’m giving you the permission slip you’re looking for: please, enjoy your meals. It is so important that you appreciate the food you are eating, give yourself approval to eat the things you love, and to actually take the time to enjoy them! Of course you’re going to crave more of everything if you’re limiting yourself, and feeling like this is your “once in a lifetime” shot to eat these things.
Eat the things you love and savor every bite of it and you’ll find you don’t need three portions of your favourite dish to feel satisfied.