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How to Survive the Holidays with Your Health Intact

This post is a bit overdue but with several major holidays and both my kids’ birthdays life has been crazy. Now we’re one week away from Christmas!

The craziness of this time of year is what I want to talk about. With only week until Christmas and two weeks until New Years’ we’re all going to be faced with mountains of goodies at family gatherings, church parties, school parties, work parties, cookies from neighbors, etc, etc, etc… It’s basically Candy Land come to life.

So how do we survive this without health crashes and sugar comas? I’ve read several tips that focus on abstaining. Here’s the problem, I don’t want to abstain! I want Christmas cookies, fudge, hot chocolate and peppermint kisses (a must-have). So if you want to abstain from treats, I have tips for you. But if you want to indulge a bit, I have tips for you too.

Abstain:

Eat first, party after

I’ve heard the tip “eat before you go to an event” a million times but what do I eat? My best bet is a protein shake. Blend your favorite protein shake with some leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc) and your favorite fat (I love coconut butter or peanut butter). I love this tip because it helps satisfy my sweet tooth and gives me fat, protein, a little carb and a good dose of veggies.

Bring something

I love pot luck gatherings because I can bring something I feel good about eating. I love to bring guacamole with veggies or a plate of prosciutto, or some fruit (sometimes a combination of all these things) Here are some suggestions if you’re looking for more ideas:

Caprese Skewers (click for link)

Pico de Gallo (click for link)

Asian Meatballs (click for link)

If you’re looking for something sweet, try one of these:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding (click for link)

Fudgy Cookies from “A Clean Bake” (click for link)

Coconut Almond Bars from “Joy, Food, Sunshine” (click for link)

Craft instead of cook

We LOVE to make sugar cookies together as a family at Christmas. What makes it so fun is being together, making the dough, cutting out the dough and the sweet smells. Instead of cookies, consider making apple-cinnamon Christmas ornaments (click here for directions).  Not only are these fun to make but they make great gifts. Rather than hand out cookies, give a few of these to your neighbors and friends. They make the whole house smell amazing!

Indulge:

If you don’t like to indulge, feel free to stop reading now. But I do like to indulge and I think most people feel the same. And I’m guessing we all do the same thing. We justify eating the cookie because it’s Christmas and we should enjoy ourselves. After the cookie we feel guilty for giving in and sure we’ve completely destroyed our health. Usually, this is all in our heads and not the reality. But there are steps we can take to keep our health intact while enjoying treats during the holidays. The idea is to take extra care in other aspects of our lives and to not beat ourselves up for our not-so-wonderful food choices. The stress that comes from worrying will likely do more to harm our health than the cookie. So just let it go. Accept that you want a treat and know you can be a good person, loved by others if you do eat some fudge.  So what extra precautions can we take this time of year?

Bone Broth

When I have a particularly bad night of indulgence, I start the next morning with some bone broth. Bone broth helps lower inflammation, heals our digestion and keeps our immune systems strong. Check out this article I wrote to learn more about bone broth and how you can make it.

Veggies

Make sure you eat as many veggies as possible. Throw veggies in smoothies, have big salads for lunch, make veggie stir frys, roast some veggies to go with dinner. Make a goal to have veggies with every single meal. This keeps our micronutrient needs met and helps boost our immune systems.

 

Sleep

Sleep is HUGE this time of year. A good night sleep can lower stress, keep our metabolisms strong, boost our immune systems and gives our bodies time to repair and digest. Sleep is more important than exercise so make it a top priority. I help my sleep by drinking magnesium every night before bed, sleeping in a dark room, using a noise machine and turning off electronics at least an hour before bed.

Hydrate

Staying hydrated not only keeps all our body systems running more smoothly but it also keeps us from snacking too much. I always have a bottle of water with me. This helps clean our bodies out, gives us more energy and boosts immunity. Add lemon to your water or consider a sparkling water for variety.

Get movement in daily

If you’re super stressed, adding an hour run each day may not be the best thing for your body, but keep exercise a priority this time of year even if you can’t stick to your normal, vigorous exercise routine. Lift weights, do yoga, go for a walk, etc. Movement aids in digestion, boosts immunity and improves mood.

 

Above all, try to relax and know that what happens between Thanksgiving and New Years’ Day probably won’t make or break your health. So have the cookie or don’t, but don’t make it a moral question. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

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