Staying healthy during the holidays may seem impossible, but I promise that it is totally doable! With these healthy holiday tips and a little determination, you can keep your health on track while still enjoying yourself during the holiday season.
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The family dinners. The shopping. The decorating. The party planning. The million other things you have to do between now and Christmas.
Between all of these obligations, it is so easy to put your health and self-care on the back burner.
I mean really. Who has time to squeeze in a daily workout or cook a healthy meal when you barely have time to eat at all?
It’s true that the holidays are a crazy time, and for many people, the holidays also bring some not-so-desirable health consequences.
I’m looking at you, bathroom scales.
While I can’t make the healthy decisions for you, I can offer you some tips that will help you keep your health on track this holiday season. So if you’d like to enjoy the holidays while staying healthy, then you’re in the right place! Here are my best tips to keep you happy and healthy during the holidays.
Healthy Holiday Tips: Daily Self-Care
1. Stay Active
Often, one of the first things we give up when we’re pressed for time is exercise. If you have a million and one things to do, the last thing you probably want to do is spend an hour at the gym.
Regular exercise has numerous health benefits. It
- improves your muscle tone
- maintains your bone density
- strengthens your cardiovascular system
- boosts your mood
- improves your quality of sleep
- helps you maintain a healthy weight
Friend, these are important things! Our bodies need to move, which is why we must make it a priority to stay active, even when we feel like we’re too busy.
You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym each day. Instead, you could walk on your lunch break, take an evening stroll with your family, or do a quick exercise routine in your living room. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day and your body will be super happy.
And that brings me to my next healthy holiday tip!
2. Squeeze in a workout first thing in the morning
It’s inevitable that things will come up during the day to derail whatever end-of-day exercise plan you may have had. A bad day at work, getting stuck in traffic, having to stay late to finish a project, or needing to pick up a last-minute Christmas gift after work are just some of the events that could cause you to skip your daily workout.
Instead, try to fit your workout into your morning routine. When it’s the first thing you do in the morning, nothing can cause you to skip it. (Well, you could choose to not do it, but that’s a separate issue altogether 😉 )
It sucks sometimes, but Josh and I get up at 5:00am most mornings during the week so we can exercise before we start work. It is hard to get out of bed, but once we’re actually up, we’re wide awake and ready to tackle the day with energy and intensity. And do you know what? We’re both more productive and have better days when we start with a good workout!
Josh is a gym guy, so he uses the free gym at his work to exercise. I prefer to work out in my living room. Right now, I’m loving Jane Fonda’s 80s aerobics videos and Cassey Ho’s Pilates Intense Interval Training (PIIT for short) plan. Jane gets my heart rate up and Cassey works my muscles!
3. Stick to a meal plan
The second thing we often give up when we’re pressed for time is healthy food. It’s quicker to swing by McDonald’s or grab takeout than to cook a healthy meal at home, so we tend to default to those types of already-made options.
Although fast food, takeout, and frozen dinners are quick, they’re doing nothing but harm to your body. They’re loaded with fat, sodium, refined carbs, and other highly processed ingredients, and they’re devoid of life-giving whole plant foods.
When was the last time you ordered a dark green leafy salad without dressing at McDonald’s? Yeah, I thought so.
Instead of fueling your body with nutrient-deficient foods, create a meal plan that includes lots of whole plant foods (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts & seeds) so your body can function optimally. Having a meal plan ensures that you know exactly what you’ll cook each day and that you have all the necessary ingredients in your kitchen just waiting to be cooked.
Related: Meal Planning Made Simple
4. Meal prep your food ahead of time
If you’re pressed for time in the evenings during the week, you might find it helpful to meal prep your food ahead of time. All you do is set aside some time on the weekend to prepare whole meals or just certain components of the meals you plan to cook the following week. Once they’re cooked, simply pack them in storage containers, put them in your fridge, and heat them when you’re ready to eat!
Meal prepping does consume some of your weekend time, but it also frees up your evenings so you can focus on holiday-related tasks.
5. Choose healthy foods the majority of the time
Even though you may not be able to eat perfectly 100% of the time, try to make healthy food choices at least the majority of the time. You’ll feel better and you’ll be more likely to avoid holiday weight gain. Double win!
6. Keep healthy snacks on hand
When you’re running around trying to squeeze in all of your holiday errands, it’s easy to grab unhealthy snack bars when you need a quick fix. But these kinds of snacks aren’t doing you any favors! Instead, keep a stock of healthy snacks that you can eat at home or on the go.
Travel-friendly snacks that you can throw in a bag and take with you include fruit, nuts, and Larabars (the only plant-based snack bar that I personally eat). Snacks that require a little more prep work but are still healthy include smoothies and carrots sticks with hummus.
7. Stick to a regular sleep schedule
As tempting as it may be to stay up late wrapping presents, your body craves a regular sleep schedule. Aim for a solid 7-8 hours each night, and try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, including weekends.
8. Stay hydrated
Your body requires water to function. Staying hydrated will help your organs function properly, keep your skin vibrant, and help you think more clearly, feel more energized, and eat less. I don’t know about you, but those things sound pretty good to me, especially around the holidays!
Start your day with a tall glass of water (2 cups) to rehydrate yourself after a long night of sleep. Then sip water all throughout the day, aiming for at least 8 8-ounce glasses of water.
Of course, the amount of water you need will depend on your height, weight, and activity level, so you might find a water calculator helpful. Also, you can use your urine as a pretty good indicator of hydration. If your urine is clear or very pale yellow, you’re good to go!
Healthy Holiday Tips: Holiday Dinners
9. Bring a healthy dish (or two!)
As much as I love family dinners, the food is usually the farthest thing from healthy. Oh, it’s definitely delicious; there’s no doubt about that. But it isn’t doing my body any favors.
If your family dinners are anything like mine, then you’ll probably benefit from bringing a healthy dish or two or three so you have some healthier options to include on your plate.
Here are some of my favorite healthy, plant-based holiday recipes that are sure to be a hit with everyone in your family. And the best part is that they’ll never know these recipes are actually healthy!
10. Fill your plate like this
Try to fill your plate with the healthiest options you have available. That will probably include the healthy dishes you brought with you and any other healthy options your family members brought.
A good rule of thumb is to choose foods that look minimally processed and appear to only have a few ingredients. For example, green beans are probably a better choice than casseroles. Casseroles typically include butter, refined grains such as crackers, creamed soups, and other highly processed and unhealthy ingredients. Green beans, on the other hand, typically only include green beans and maybe some butter if you’re in the South.
11. Eat reasonable portions
Even though the holidays are a time to celebrate, you don’t have to go overboard at mealtime. Stick to a reasonable portion, eat slowly, and stop eating when you start to feel full. You’ll feel miserable for the rest of the day if you stuff yourself to the gills, so be aware of portion size as you fill your plate.
12. Enjoy a few indulgences guilt-free
For the remainder of your plate, enjoy a few select indulgences guilt-free. Savor every bite, and don’t beat yourself up if those foods are a far cry from your normal food standards. It matters more what you put in your mouth on a daily basis, so remind yourself that one family dinner won’t break your healthy lifestyle.
At our family Thanksgiving this year, I had a generous slice of my Aunt Carolyn’s famous Hershey Bar Cake. Even though I knew it was loaded with sugar, refined flour, and animal products (and thus was a far cry from my typical mostly plant-based lifestyle), you better believe that I enjoyed every single bite of it and felt zero guilt whatsoever!
I may have even gone back for a second slice. 😉
Healthy Holiday Tips: Sanity Savers
13. Have a plan for the holidays
An easy way to reduce stress during the holidays is to make a plan. Flying by the seat of your pants might cut it the rest of the year, but now is not the time for disorganization. Trying to remember every little thing (i.e. who you’ve already purchased gifts for, who you still need to send cards to, and what you need to pick up for Christmas dinner) is a surefire way to stress yourself out.
Instead, create a solid action plan for the holidays so you know exactly what needs to be done and when.
Luckily, I just so happen to have a pretty and FREE printable holiday planner for you! It’s super popular this year, so jump on the bandwagon and grab yourself copy! Trust me; you’ll be so glad you did.
14. Take some time for yourself
Even though you have a million and one things to do between now and Christmas, it’s imperative that you also make yourself a priority. I always have to remind myself of this important truth:
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
If you’re stressed to the max and completely exhausted, how can you give your best to the people around you, much less enjoy the holiday season for yourself? Slow down, take a step back, and do something for yourself. When you come back, you’ll be refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle your remaining holiday tasks with new energy and vigor.
And believe me; your loved ones will be much happier when you’re in a pleasant mood instead of frazzled!
Related: 29 Ways to De-Stress Right Now
15. Forget about obligations
The last of my healthy holiday tips is probably the most important one of all: ditch the obligations this year. Just because you’ve always done things a certain way or because something is a tradition doesn’t mean you have to do it this year if it doesn’t make you happy.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy spent with the people we love most. If you’re unhappy doing something, then you’re essentially robbing yourself of your Christmas joy.
So, don’t feel obligated to do every single thing, especially in the name of tradition. Instead, choose to do the things that make you happy and forget about the rest. I promise that it’s okay!
Wrapping It Up
Whew! That was a lot of information! But I know that if you follow these tips, you’ll stay happy and healthy this holiday season. Yes, the holidays can be super stressful. But you still need to make your health and happiness a priority so you can enjoy all the little things this special time of year has to offer.
Also, don’t forget to download my free holiday planner! I just know you’ll love it as much as I do, especially since it will help you plan a stress-free holiday this year.
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- How to Start Saving for Christmas Now to Avoid Christmas Debt
- How to Create Your Christmas Budget
- Christmas Gifts on a Budget: How to Save Money on Christmas Gifts
- Read This Before You Buy a Flocked Christmas Tree
- Christmas Gift Ideas to Fit Your Budget
- Holiday Planner 2018: Free Printables to Simplify the Holidays
- Holiday Cleaning: How to Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays
What about you? Do you have any healthy holiday tips that I forgot to include in this list?
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