Don’t Take a Holiday from Your Health During the Holidays!

While the holidays are typically a time for people to take breaks from school, work and the daily grind, unfortunately, it is also a time when most people take a break from healthy habits.

My advice to you and probably the greatest gift that I can give this holiday season is to say, “please don’t take a holiday from your health during the holidays.”

In fact, the holidays are the perfect reason in the season to ramp up and increase your healthy lifestyle efforts.

Why?

Because health is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself and those you love.

But unfortunately, the holidays are often a reason to over-eat, over-spend and over-indulge and to put our physical and mental health on the back burner.

The holidays can and should be a time when you start healthy traditions and establish or maintain healthy routines, so that when all the celebrating is over, you have reason to celebrate as you start the New Year.

Healthy traditions

Holiday traditions are often passed down from one generation to the next. Why not pass down healthier traditions that contribute positively to the health and the happiness of those around you?

Irrespective of the way that you normally celebrate the holidays, I have found that for most, the holidays are a time of shopping and gift giving, large gatherings and big family meals.

By committing to shopping, giving, gathering and eating in a healthier way this year, you can create healthy traditions and healthy routines that help you and your loved ones start the New Year in a healthier way!

How can you shop in a healthy way?

  • Adhere to your holiday budget and if you don’t have a holiday budget, create one. Budgets control expenses and support mindful spending.
  • Plan gift giving ahead of time with family and friends and set limits on gift spending.
  • Only buy presents that you can afford. You should NEVER go into debt to buy presents.

How do you give in a healthy way?

  • If you are on a limited budget, give a present that really means something to the recipient. A “meaningful” present or unique present is better than a ton of presents that you just purchased to fill up space under the tree.
  • Offer to provide a service as a present after the holidays that allows you to fill a need plus provide an opportunity to reconnect again when the festivities are over.
  • Give a gift that you make yourself. Homemade gifts show the receiver that you thought of them in a personal way.

How can you gather in a healthy way?

  • Commit to only what your schedule reasonably allows. Too many parties and events can cause undue stress during an already stressful season.
  • Set boundaries and limits by clearly articulating expectations for family gatherings. Have designated times for friend or family visits, gift-giving and mealtimes.
  • Avoid getting caught up in a “fairytale” version of the holidays and find peace and gratitude in your reality. There are no perfect families; try your best to enjoy yours.

How do you eat in a healthy way?

If you are the host:

  • Provide healthy food options such as fresh fruit, raw vegetables, leafy greens, and healthy drink options such as un-sweetened tea or fruit flavored water.
  • Have take-home containers readily available and encourage guests to not feel pressured to consume everything on their plate, but rather to store any left-over food in the refrigerator to take home.
  • Find healthier versions of traditional recipes and reduce calories and fat as much as possible.
  • Make sure that you don’t sacrifice taste and try new recipes ahead of time.

If you are the guest:

  • Create a healthy plate by being mindful of portion sizes and select lower calorie, lower fat foods, and beverages when possible.
  • Chew food slowly savoring the taste and textures of foods as well as conversations with loved ones.
  • Bring a few healthy dishes to share and pass around. Make sure to check with the host first.

Healthy routines

Routines and schedules help you follow through on healthy lifestyle decisions. It is ironic, that during the holidays when we typically have more flexibility and time to integrate healthier actions into our day that we often eliminate those healthy actions, such as exercise and/or physical activity and pay little attention to our self-care.  Creating or maintaining healthy routines helps you stay committed to your health.

How can you create or maintain healthy routines?

  • Commit to prayer and/or meditation each day to create a positive mindset.
  • Schedule in healthy eating and exercise as well as intentional physical activity between shopping, food preparation, events and gatherings.
  • Make time for downtime and schedule breaks when do you “absolutely nothing” to relax and replenish your mind and body.
  • Create and/or maintain a consistent wake-up and sleep routine and schedule.

By creating healthy traditions and healthy routines, you will not only fully enjoy the holiday season, but you can also enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your health!

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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