I used to have a tough time getting through the holiday season. I constantly had a full plate of food and full glass of wine on the go because, hey, it’s Christmas!
This meant I staggered through the holiday season – tired, bloated, stressed and in a food-coma for most of the time. And I’m not even going to mention the morning after all those parties, and as for the weight gain, let’s not go there.
But now I’ve discovered some simple strategies to make it through the holiday season, without the stress eating, inevitable tummy troubles, and extra pounds.
We are NOT talking about deprivation during the holidays. Instead, I want to share some do-able ideas to help you get the most out of the holiday season, without resorting to big knickers and elastic waistbands!
But the thought of a holiday season of constantly counting calories, saying ‘no’, and denying yourself couldn’t really be much more depressing, could it?
What I’ve learned (through a lot of trial and error) is that the holidays don’t have to be a rollercoaster of bingeing and regretting, nor do they have to be a time of missing out. I’ve learned how to maintain my health while still having a blast.
I became a health coach because I want you to be able to do the same thing.
I want you to have real strategies and solutions for life that still allow you to have fun. I’m not talking about a life of total deprivation, but about taking good care of yourself and meeting your cravings head on.
Here are my five key tips for surviving Christmas,
without resorting to big knickers and elastic waistbands.
Follow these tips and Christmas will be fun and relaxed, without the bingeing and guilt.
But if you need more support including healthy Christmas treats, recovery recipes, shopping lists and more, download my free Christmas Survival Guide!
Tip # 1 – Plan Ahead
Make SURE TO PLAN before you attend a gathering or party.
Find out what will be served:
If possible, ask the host what kinds of foods and drinks will be served so you’ll know ahead of time how to prepare.
Bring a dish to your holiday dinner:
Take along something delicious and healthy that is already prepped for sharing, such as my Mince Pie Amazeballs, or Non-dairy cream cheese canapes. That way there is always be something you can eat without any drama.
Pack a healthy snack:
Throw a healthy protein bar (Bounce Balls are one of my faves) in your bag so you’ll have something to snack on besides the chips and dip.
Don’t show up hungry:
Always eat at least a small meal before you go to a dinner or party. If you show up starving you’ll be likely to wolf down everything in sight. Try one of the following protein-rich mini meals to tide you over and keep you from pigging out on sugar.
Tip # 2 – Hydrate
If you’re feeling super hungry at an event, focus on drinking water before you go for that plate of food. Sometimes that hunger is actually a sign of thirst.
If you’re finding yourself craving sugar and salt, your body is likely depleted in minerals. Order a tall glass of water with lemon while you’re out to replenish.
Are you celebrating the holiday with a glass of bubbly or mulled wine? Make sure to drink a glass of water before and after each glass of alcohol.
Another awesome option is to make a healthy vitamin water, and drink it both before you head out AND the morning after. You will find the recipe in my full Survival Guide (which you can download below).
Tip # 3 – Say ‘No’ (most of the time)
The key to staying healthy and feeling good (both physically and mentally) during the holidays is to avoid eating everything in sight.
We’re all human. There’s no way we’re going to make it through an entire month of parties and holiday treats saying NO every single time. Nor do we want to.
That kind of extreme mentality is what leaves us feeling emotionally deprived and ready to binge.
The last thing we want is to get so frustrated with deprivation that we show up to a party and say screw it, I’m eating everything!
Practice the 80/20 rule
Nobody needs to be perfect. Focus on eating healthy, nourishing foods 80% of the time. This gives you some leeway to indulge the other 20% of the time without feeling guilty.
Tip # 4 – Be Mindful
When you do decide to have the slice of pie or helping of mom’s stuffing, focus on savoring the food instead of inhaling it.
Moderation and paying attention to portion sizes go a long way to keeping us healthy and feeling good.
If this relationship with food is something that you struggle with (I know I have), I recommend the work of Geneen Roth. She’s been pivotal to my life and shown me that eating isn’t about pulling a chair up to the fridge.
Check in with yourself before you eat:
Take a few moments to turn inward before you start eating. Ask yourself: Have I filled myself up with self-care today? Have I slowed down and addressed my emotions? Remind yourself how worthy you are to receive the simple kindness of doing the right thing by yourself.
If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, take a few moments to do some deep breathing. Excuse yourself to the restroom if you need to step away.
Taking the time to touch base with your body and slow down will help prevent overeating.
Ask about healthy options:
Don’t be afraid to talk with the party host, the waiter or your co-workers about healthy foods for your holiday events.
We might feel nervous about speaking up – what will people think? But we’re not being a pain. We’re being mindful of taking care of ourselves and setting the stage for success.
Slow down & enjoy your food:
If you actually want to have a taste of something, then do it! Slow down and enjoy the decadent flavor of that chocolate cake or the creamy deliciousness of those roast potatoes. Taste the food you’re eating, and don’t feel guilty.
Savour the moment:
Remember that a truly healthy, happy holiday is about being present in the moment.
As you’re celebrating, practice mindfulness:
I deserve to really enjoy my life.
I deserve to step away from a stressful situation to focus on myself for 5 minutes.
I deserve to enjoy celebrating in the company of my friends and family.
It’s not only about the plate of food.
Savour your experiences, too.
The food is a tiny part of your life and what is happening inside and around you is much more important. Enjoy being with the people you love, and the happy moments. Focus on the small things that bring you joy!
Gratitude journaling is an excellent way to help us focus on the positive at a time of year that can be stressful.
After the fact
Tip # 5 – Plan B
Sometimes, regardless of our best intentions, we can still feel bloated, tired, and less-than-amazing once the party’s over.
It’s important to have some healthy tricks in the toolbox to nip those gross symptoms in the bud and get us back on track to feeling great. We want to focus on flushing toxins out of our bodies to reduce the acidic waste that leads to bloating and fatigue. I will be running a free post-Christmas re-set challenge in the New Year and here’s a little taster of what’s involved.
Here are my 3 favorite ways to de-bloat and reset after the event.
- MY MORNING LEMON ELIXIR
Take 2 cups of room temperature water, and add the juice from 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of cayenne (optional), and 1 teaspoon of raw honey or a couple drops of stevia (use stevia if you are on a yeast cleansing diet).
Mix well, and sip to cleanse the body.
- MY EVENING ALKALIZING CHLOROPHYLL DRINK
Add 1 tablespoon of chlorophyll to 12 ounces of water with the juice of one lemon and drink.
Note: you can buy chlorophyll at any natural food store, Whole Foods, or on Amazon.
- MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercise is one of the best ways to cleanse your body and remove toxins. Try taking a brisk walk, hitting the gym, or going to your favorite zumba class. Sweating helps the body to eliminate toxins through the skin. Be sure to shower and scrub when you’re done.