Once the holidays arrive, one of the first things that may fly out the window are healthy habits.
It can be easy to neglect our own health and overdo it with the treats and sweets, and many of us will feel the impacts of our choices made during the holiday season come January.
Though the holidays can bring about changes in routine, this doesn't mean we have to completely neglect our healthy habits or sabotage our goals.
In fact, by following some foundational principles and making small efforts here and there you can enjoy the holiday season while also staying healthy and feeling your best!
7 ways to stay on track with healthy habits this holiday season
Adopt micro-movements throughout your day
Exercise doesn't have to be all or nothing nor does it have to stay within the confines of the gym. While you may find it more challenging to stick to your normal gym routine, you can still keep your body active no matter where you are. That's the beauty of movement, it doesn't require a specific location or even equipment, all you need is your body!
Get creative and have fun with exercise whether it means trying a new outdoor activity, getting a group together for a fun class, or simply getting up to stretch and walk around every so often.
Don't leave your healthy habits up to chance! When we don't plan ahead it can be a lot easier to just order out, neglect home cooking, or skip workouts.
If you know you are going to have some busy hectic days, you can support yourself by prepping some easy meals to put together on the fly, stocking up on healthy snacks, scheduling in your workouts, and even setting alarms for your morning and bedtimes routines!
Meeting your health and nutrition needs during the holidays will most often require more effort than usual so planing ahead will be your best tool in order to fuel your body with what it needs.
Too often an unwanted side effect of celebrating any holiday is eating too much too quickly, resulting in the dreaded food coma.
Mindful eating is all about being aware of what you are eating and how it affects your body.
By sitting down with your food and taking the time to savor each bite, you make it more likely that your hunger signals will be received by your brain and thus you will end up eating less.
Overeating can cause quite a strain on your digestive system and blood sugar, not to mention promote uncomfortable feelings.
Take more time with your meal by pausing between each bite and stopping before you are full, which ultimately will lead to a more pleasurable, and comfortable, experience.
Begin your day with nutrition
It's often recommended to workout first thing in the day to make it more likely to actually commit, and this can also apply to nutrition. By starting your day with a nutritious meal you are already starting your day on a positive healthy note while setting yourself up to adhere to more healthy choices throughout the day. If you have trouble making your breakfast healthy or you worry that you won't have enough time, there are plenty of easy, simple, and delicious breakfasts that you can whip up in no time.
For example, chia pudding or overnight oats are popular choices that you can prep the night before and avocado toasts and smoothies are great if you have some time in the morning. You can find all of these breakfast ideas with recipes to follow on our blog.
Make healthy swaps
Food is an important part of holiday traditions, and our tastebuds delight in the rich and decadent flavours that are characteristic of the season.
However, when we overindulge or continually eat foods that leave us feeling not so good, this can take its toll on our bodies and throw a wrench in our fitness goals.
This doesn't mean that we have to deprive ourselves of sweets and treats entirely, because what's the fun in that, but there are many alternative food swaps you can adopt to support your health during this season while still enjoying every bite.
We're all about having a healthy yet pleasurable experience with food and we believe you can have both!
Below we share some alternative holiday food swaps to make the season healthy and happy:
- Natural sweeteners such as raw honey, maple syrup and zero sugar sweeteners like stevia, monkfruit, and cinnamon
- Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate
- Organic dry wines or vodka with soda water instead of cocktails
- Kombucha or sparkling water instead of soda
- Grilled, sauteed, or baked foods instead of fried foods
- Olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or ghee instead of vegetable oils
- Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
- Hummus dips instead of creamy cheese dips
- Whole grain or sourdough bread instead of white bread
Prioritize quality sleep
It can easy to let go of our normal day to day routines during the holidays, including our bedtime rituals. However, its natural and normal for the body to need more sleep as the days become shorter and the nights longer, hence the desire that might arise to hibernate and practice the concept of hygge, also known as extreme coziness.
When sleep is neglected or lacking, it's easier to feel overwhelmed by the stress in our lives, as well as moody and lethargic during the day. This also creates more resistance towards making healthier choices that will benefit your wellbeing. So you see, sleep supports you in more ways than one!
There are a number of simple yet powerful things you can do to ensure you get a good night's sleep and make it more likely you wake up feeling rested:
- Aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night
- Get daylight exposure as early as possible in the morning
- Avoid screens and bright lights near bedtime
- Try to stick to the same bedtime and wake up schedule
- Avoid alcohol consumption
- Sleep in complete darkness by investing in black out curtains or an eye mask
- Don't get to bed starving or stuffed. Aim to eat your last meal no less than 2 hours before bed
- Include physical activity during your day
Invite others to join you
It's a lot harder to stick to something when you're going solo, but you don't have to do it alone!
Your environment is one of the biggest influencers of your behaviors and can make it both easier and more difficult to practice healthy habits and stick to them.
We are meant to be social creatures and it makes life more fun when you turn your healthy habits into a social activity.
What's more, there is that extra layer of accountability when you pair up with someone who supports your goals or when you voice your intentions with others.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are the only one who is health conscious, there are ways you can include others and peak their interest by creating curiosity.
You can invite others into adopting healthy routines during the holidays by offering to go on a family walk, trying a new healthy dish or fitness class together, or creating a bedtime ritual for the family like playing card games or sitting around the fire with your favourite holiday drink.
This isn't about influencing others or changing their ways, it's about taking charge by leading yourself and inviting others to join you on your health journey, which is a benefit for everyone!