10 tips for staying healthy and surviving the holidays
From Thanksgiving dinner with the relatives to your office holiday potlucks, candy cane booby traps seem to be everywhere this time of year. I’m bringing you some of my best tips to survive the holiday season with your health intact so you won’t need a New Year’s resolution of losing weight…again.
Without further adieu, here are my top 10 tips for staying healthy and surviving the holidays:
1. If possible, host a gathering or dinner at your place
Yes, this usually makes tons of extra work for you, but by hosting, you’ll have more control over the food offered. Chances are, folks won’t really even notice you’re offering healthy choices, so don’t make a big deal about how you’ve banished the junk. There are so many healthy appetizer recipes, and plenty of healthier versions of pretty much everything out there that you can stick to a clean diet even while at a party.
I have baked pies, cakes and cookies using whole wheat flour and honey instead of processed sugar and everyone gobbled them up happily!
Last Christmas I even made a Dairy free Spinach Artichoke dip and EVERYONE Loved it! 2. Station yourself near the veggies.
If I’m out at a party, I hone in on the veggies and meat options and properly set myself up with a plateful. Fresh veggies and fruit? Yup. Cheese? Sure in moderation! It may not be as sexy as those holiday cookies, but you won’t end up with a sugar hangover the next day. 3. Have a booze alternative.
If you’ve decided to forgo alcohol, have a substitute drink. That way, at the office party, you can mingle and still have something sparkly in your hand while you’re socializing. One of my favourites is a Cranberry juice with club soda OR Bottle Green sparkling juice (Pomegranate Elderflower is delish). I also love Perrier Lemon sparkling water.
4. If going to a party where you’re unsure of the food situation, eat at home first
Sounds simple enough but I’ve been to enough parties where the main food options were sandwiches with white bread and meat of an unknown origin that I'm not so fond of, I eat at home before I go.
Nothing’s worse than going hungry at a party then arriving home really late, starving. If you show up and there are options, cool…you can pick and choose and fill your belly up with stuff that’s not going to wreck you.
Usually there are always some veggies and fruit to snack on and if you have eaten something substantial before you left you are sure to not over indulge.
5. Be prepared for travel
Holiday season is prime time for travel to visit family and friends, but long hours in transit plus limited options in airports and truck stop convenience stores often lead to impulse eating.
What to do?
Stash unsalted nuts and organic dried fruits as snacks in your bag if you’re going on a plane. Or bring along a few packets of shakeology in your purse. I have actually stopped off at the local starbucks and asked if they wouldn't mind blending my shakeology up for me with ice and they obliged! You could also bring your shaker cup and shake it with almond milk or coconut water on the go!
If you’re going by car, consider bringing a cooler so you can snack while on the go.
6. Don’t start a clean-eating challenge during the holidays
This one’s tough. Some folks take on 30 day clean eating challenges over the holidays in an attempt to “be good” because there’s a structure in place that they’re committed to. While it sounds great in theory, I don’t recommend it.
It’s one thing to make healthy real food versions of your favourite holiday foods but when you’re ultra restrictive around this time of year, there’s always the significant chance of going 180 in the other direction because the pressure and temptations are so high. Falling off the wagon big time is even more likely at this time of year because you need to exercise willpower virtually everywhere you go. Just like a muscle, willpower gets exhausted from overuse, too.
My Suggestion: START NOW! We have time now to start a 5 day clean eating challenge or join one of my challenge groups to get your fitness and nutrition on track. Then during that really difficult week where temptations are more crammed together and difficult to avoid, you already have structure in place and know what to do. You have the flexibility to indulge a little over the holidays without guilt knowing that you will get back on track right after.
If you join one of my challenge groups (I have one starting December 1st) we will provide support and tips on getting through the holidays but we will also be working out daily and checking in with each other. Support from like minded individuals will make the difference this holiday!
7. Schedule time to be active and exercise
Even if it’s a short walk or a workout at home, with time off around the holidays, it’s easy to fall into a rut.
I mean even the weekends are more of a challenge for me to get my workout in!
You don’t have to hammer yourself, but make time each day to get outdoors or get your sweat on. You’ll keep your energy up and prevent some of the gloomy day blues that seem to arrive with the winter season.
Even better! Join my December 1st Beat the Christmas Crazies21 Day Fix Challenge group and we will stick to the program all the way up to December 21st just in time for the Full ON holiday events to start up!
8. Get the bat signal ready
When temptations arise, have someone you can send a bat signal in the sky to. It could be a work buddy, a trusted friend or a family member. Staring down a tray of Christmas cookies? Send a text or phone a friend. The buddy system works wonders.
That's why we have our Beating the Christmas Crazies group! These support systems and people who will propel you to succeed in your goals are really the key to your success! These groups REALLY work! It's like a buddy system where everyone is on the same page! 9. Resist the urge barf clean eating all over the party
If you’re loving clean eating and all the great stuff it’s done for you – better sleep, more energy, fat loss, etc. – it’s so tempting to want to. Tell. EVERYONE.
When’s a better time than having a captive audience at a holiday get together?! (I’m joking…this is a terrible time).
As much as you want to tell your Uncle George about the blood sugar spike he’ll get after eating that slice of fruitcake, it’s probably not the time or place.
Course, if someone asks all about the fabulous changes they’ve noticed in you, you may want to strategically talk about what you’ve been doing (like, “I have stopped eating anything processed and I eat plenty of meat, veggies and healthy fat”).
Focusing on the positive always helps. Take it from me, discussing the downsides of processed foods and refined sugar at a holiday family party when it’s unsolicited often goes over poorly and makes people uncomfortable.
10. Know where you can cut corners
I’m assuming you’ve already done a 5 day clean eating challenge at some point in your journey, right?! (wink wink) You should have a good idea of which foods you can be lax about and which are an absolute no-go. It's ok to have a treat or two here and there, but try to pick the home made, less processed of the bunch! If you’re out and you want to indulge a bit, pick a choice that won’t wreck you for days. But also get back on track after having that treat and don't let a slip become a slide!
If there’s a super special treat that your mom only makes for Christmas and it’d fill you with joy to have it, I’d argue that’s where you could / should / would give in. A bag of red and green M & Ms every day through December 31 just isn’t special.
I hope these tips were helpful to you and that you have decided to take action now to get into a routine so that you are prepared for the Holidays!