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7 Simple Strategies for a Healthy Holiday Season

Healthy holiday season doesn’t seem realistic, but it can be. Try these simple strategies to navigate the holiday season with health and ease.

Healthy Holiday Season Strategies | Keeping Healthy During the Holidays | Healthy Decisions at ChristmasThe holiday season is just around the corner. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, you may gain between 1 and 2 pounds. Yikes! Over a course of 5 years, that is 5-10 of unwanted weight. No one wants that weight gain.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  You can still enjoy the weeks of the holidays and still remaining healthy without weight gain.

7 Simple Strategies for a Healthy Holiday Season

1. Decide What Your Priorities Are

As you look ahead, what are your priorities for the holiday season?  Do you want to remain healthy? Do you want to gain weight?  Do you want to have fun?  Can you remain healthy and still enjoy yourself? Do you want to spend time with those you love?

Decide that you do want to keep your health during the holidays. Commit to having a memorable season while keeping your health a priority. When you do this, it becomes easier to make decisions to keep your health and weight. Write down your commitment and keep it in a visible place.

2. Eat Whole Foods & Enjoy Processed, Sugar Foods Sparingly

Start telling yourself that you can enjoy all the festivities without all the sugar and processed foods.  Always start with the most simple, whole foods. Fill your plate with those foods including fruits and vegetables, and then enjoy one sugary food per celebration or gathering.  Depriving yourself is not the answer. Instead allow yourself your favorite sugar food in a small quantity and enjoy.

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3. Say No

We all have a tendency to overbook ourselves, to commit to things that we know aren’t in our best interest.

Asked to a join a cookie exchange, say no…knowing you will be making healthy energy bites this year instead.

Asked to head an event that is going to take too much time, say no…find your own way of giving back that doesn’t take so much time, like donating to your favorite charity or volunteering at a food bank one time.

Asked to go to a gathering where you know it will be impossible to eat well, avoid unhealthy drinks, and it will go too late, say no…use that time instead to catch up on your to-do list, practice some self-care, wrap presents while listening to soothing music, and drinking a cup of herbal tea. Go to bed early.

You don’t have to attend all activities.  Find joy and gratitude in a quieter activity from time to time. You may find that you enjoy the holiday season even more.

4. Plan Downtime

As you start to fill in your holiday schedule, make sure you block out time for you, for your own self-care.  When you fill your schedule to overflowing, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and tired.  When you remember to take care of you, you will have the strength to make healthy choices.

Remember to include time for you to recharge.  Whether that is meditating, taking a bath, reading a holiday book, or whatever refreshes you, spend time in slowing down.  You will enjoy the festivities with more energy and vitality.  Check out my Self-care Pinterest Board for ideas.

Find out why you need Self Care for Optimal Health

 Sleep Quote | Healthy Holiday Season Strategies | Inspiring Words for the Holidays

5. Prioritize Your Sleep

Your to-do list is pages long.  There are parties and gatherings to attend. Work is crazy before year-end.  Sleep seems like a luxury, but it isn’t.  Commit today to getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  Occasionally, a gathering may go late, but at least 6 days out of the week, get to bed by 10 and asleep by 10:30.  Your healthy will benefit.

Sleep is crucial to keeping your hormone levels balanced for a healthy holiday season.  When you don’t sleep enough, your hunger and feel full hormones, ghrelin and leptin, go out of whack, causing chemicals in your body to crave sweets and junk food.  Getting enough sleep will help your body help you make healthy decisions.

6. Get Moving

Yes, you are busy, but your body needs to move.  Movement and exercise helps your lymphatic system function to clean toxins out of your body.  When you don’t clear out the toxins, you feel less energetic and therefore, crave the quick hit of sugar.

Exercising can help clear your mind and organize your priorities better.  It doesn’t have to be hours at the gym.  A brisk walk, yoga poses, 15 minute high intensity interval training, or a nature outing can all keep your body moving and feeling at its best.

7. Gather Healthy Holiday Recipes Now

When you get swamped, it is easy to make that familiar sugar and dairy laden food to take to your next gathering.  Take time now to create a short list of healthy foods you can take to a gathering.  When you take something healthy, you know there will be at least one healthy item you can fill up on.  You may become the one who brings the healthy, but delicious food and start a trend of healthy eats during the holidays.

Check out my Healthy Eats and Energy Bites Pinterest Boards for ideas and download 10 Healthy Holiday Recipes and Holiday Survival Tips.

Take a few minutes right now to prioritize these strategies to have a healthy holiday season. You can feel your best, keep your weight stable, and enjoy the season to the fullest.

This post was featured at A Fresh Start on a Budget’s Motivational Monday.  Go check out her website and link up.


Linking up to:
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Sleep Quote | Healthy Holiday Season Strategies | Inspiring Words for the Holidays
Healthy Holiday Season Strategies | Keeping Healthy During the Holidays | Healthy Decisions at Christmas
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    • Karen says:

      Glad you are already thinking about how to prevent your arthritis flare up. That helps you achieve it. Start today eating a little sugar as possible, getting some movement and sleep and you will be on your way to having a low inflammation holiday season.

  1. Lori English says:

    I am not going to eat a lot of sugar and trying to take it out of my diet as I know it is not good for me. I think moderation, but I also feel better when it is out of my diet.

    Lori English

    • Karen says:

      Are there “sweet” things you can substitute for sugar that allow you to still feel like you aren’t depriving yourself, but you can still feel your best. Have you tried monk fruit or stevia to see if they work for you?

  2. Tamuria says:

    These are great tips for planning a healthy holiday season. I really need to pay attention to #4 – plan downtime. I often overbook which causes stress which then results in silly food choices and lack of sleep.

    • Karen says:

      Tamuria, that is great that you recognize that. Right now, block off an evening a week for downtime for the next few weeks. Also find mini downtimes throughout the day. Leads to healthier choices and more enjoyable holiday celebrations.

  3. That’s right… it’s all about being prepared. I started Weight Watchers 14 years ago and lost 60 lbs… and it ended around this time, but I survived.. it’s all about portion control, planning ahead and priorities. It’s different now, my family is a little more spread out and I work from home… soooo many LESS food distractions, thankfully.

  4. Great ideas for the holidays. This blog inspired me to contact some friends and prepare to celebrate together by planning to walk along the river and go to the Davenport Spa instead of all the sugary foods and alcohol!

  5. It’s amazing how many people ‘know’ these tips and yet when the holiday comes, they seem to be forgotten. Because like you, my health is my priority, I find I can easily resist the temptations of the holiday season and often participate in a spiritual art process called The Holy Nights. It is not religious but spiritual in nature and it’s a wonderful way of staying connecting and reflective during the holiday season when as often we tend to immerse ourselves in the spirit of overdoing it! Thanks for the wonderful reminders to stay focused and on track during the holidays, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Beverley, love that you have found something spiritual to do. The Holy Nights sounds wonderful. I make sure I make time to live my faith during this time of the year. It keeps me grounded.

  6. Alene A Geed says:

    these are some great tips. I do seem to take time to relax more. This year my husband and I are committed to NO sweets, and very few carbs. I think this resolution will keep us from adding the traditional holiday pounds

    • Karen says:

      Alene, I am so glad you are doing that with your husband. It will make a difference that both of you are committed together. Having an accountability partner makes it easier and more fun.

  7. Lisa Swanson says:

    Wonderful tips. I especially like the connection between sleep snd down time for a happy healthy holiday. Everyone is always running at full speed which leads to lower immune system and overwhelm

  8. Hi Karen,
    Wonderful tips for staying healthy this holiday season. I love the tips for gathering those recipes for what you want to make that are in tune to your diet and are a tad better for you to consume. As for the exercise and sleep, those are so important especially if you have a few of those holiday parties and gatherings you just have to go to 🙂

  9. Robin says:

    Title has become an Oxymoron in our society?? Some great tips, but my favorite is the first – Decide my priorities. Will be giving this some thought; thanks for the nudge.

  10. Thanks for a nice article. Of course, one should never exaggerate, but I believe it is also important to enjoy the holidays and the good food without becoming too obsessed about that everything has to be healthy. After all, it is a short period, and I believe good sense and no exaggerating make you stay within reasonable limits too. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Absolutely should enjoy the holidays and you are right for some people, but I think too many times we use the holidays as an excuse to eat whatever we want and that adds up to unhealthy and weight gain.

    • Karen says:

      Again it depends on what is in the “Healthy” recipes. Some aren’t as healthy as others and sometimes even if it is healthy, it isn’t right for our bodies. It is important to know what works for your body and what doesn’t.

  11. I agree with all of your recommendations. The holidays can be stressful and it’s important to know in advance the things you can do to minimize challenges. Sleep is a biggie for me. I have to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night. I honor myself and my needs always now and it serves me well!

  12. Lorii Abela says:

    I love how you presented this concept. It covered all angles depending on the goal of the individual. That is the bottom line of it anyway. Discipline can be the question though.

  13. Lizzie Roles says:

    These are great actions we can take to implement in our holidays this year. I know my body is already crying out due to the extra sugar in hoc chocolate and cappuccino’s so for me my plan is to go back to drinking black coffee and water and enjoy some wine on the weekends instead of every single event we go to! Thank you for linking up #sharethejoy

  14. Amanda says:

    Some great tips there… I know I have been indulging in far too many treats this season (I rarely eat biscuits or cake, but with so many delicious gluten-free options popping up, I have just been grabbing them to try and eating through them far too quickly!)

    I also find it hard when the traditional idea of Christmas dinner is meat with all the trimmings, as we rarely eat meat and never eat such a massive plateful. And yet we fall into the trap of just following tradition, right? Definitely something to work on saying “no” to and looking out for self-care!


    • Karen says:

      Gluten free can be loaded with sugar and calories so go easy on those as well. You are right, we do seem to go along with tradition. Maybe it is time to create new traditions that will work for you for years to come.

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