The holidays are upon us and as much as I love them, trying to maintain healthy habits can be difficult to say the least. Surrounded by a plethora of high glycemic fatty foods and grandma smiling sweetly as she hands you a piece of pie… it’s hard to say no. So how do you stay on track with all of the temptation and chaos? Here are my top five tips:
- Relax – Don’t let the holiday chaos turn into a trigger for stress. Stress can elevate your levels of cortisol, which actually slows your digestion and exacerbates insulin resistance in your cells. Practice diaphragmatic breathing or progressive relaxation to help minimize the effect of stress on your body.
- Prepare – Let grandma, or whoever is doing the cooking, know that you would enjoy some steamed veggies this year. Even better, ask if you can help out by bringing your own dish or two. Make a healthy colorful salad and steamed vegetables, then load your plate up!
- Move – Even rough housing with the kids for half an hour will get your heart rate up and help you burn some of those extra calories. If the weather permits, get outside and play a game of family football or basketball or take a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.
- Slow down – Practice mindful eating by chewing your food thoroughly and enjoying the taste and texture of your holiday meal. Not only will you have more time to enjoy the serotonin release that occurs naturally when we eat, but allowing your food to break down thoroughly in your mouth will ease the burden on your stomach and help lessen the bloating and fatigue we often feel after a big meal. If you’ve never thought about how you chew your food, try putting your fork down between bites to allow yourself time to completely chew and swallow.
- Indulge – By loading up on salad and veggies first, you’re less likely to overdo it with the casseroles, pies, and egg nog – so feel free to enjoy the spread without completely falling off the wagon.
Have a happy and healthy holiday!
– Ashley Howell, CHC