Hi friend! With holiday season now upon us and all the awesome parties and events filling up our calendars it’s easy to get to January 1st feeling a little squishy around the middle, a little dull in the skin, and a little tired in the bod. What I thought I would do to help you get through this holiday season as in tact as possible is share 6 of my favourite survival tips.
Even if you just incorporate 1 or 2 of these bad boys into your repertoire you’ll be that much less likely to feel the overwhelming shame spiral that comes with a full-on gorge fest so typical of the holiday season.
With that in mind, lets check it out!
1. Indulge Mindfully
One of the keys to my practice when working with clients is to get them to recognize the connections between what they put in their mouths and how they look and feel on a daily basis. This practice roughly translates to conscious eating and can be applied to any situation during which you’ll be faces with treats and temptations.
I want to be clear that I am NOT telling you to ignore all the offerings at holiday parties. What I am suggesting is that instead of parking yourself in front of the sweets table (anyone else been there before?) you do a once over of everything that’s up for grabs before picking up your plate/napkin and picking your favourites, the dishes you just have to try.
Maybe you do end up eating a little more than the waist band of your slacks can handle (this is why I always wear empire waist dresses to events hehe), but the important thing is that you stop and think about the food before you put it in your mouth. Make sure that you’re really truly enjoying every mouthful and aren’t just mindlessly stuffing your face because you’re nervous about making small talk or bored or anxious about all the errands you have to run.
Indulge, but do it mindfully so that there is no guilt or shame attached to it. This is really one of the biggest keys to success. Taking the guilt away from food, because that ruminating and those emotions can cause more damage than just eating the damn cupcake did in the first place.
2. Find Your Non-Negotiables
This tip is a big one for me. I’ve spent the last few years getting to know my body and what she can and cannot handle. My non-negotiables are anything with gluten, weird food dyes, and a limited amount of dairy mostly in the form of delicious fancy cheeses. Ice cream and eggnog are off limits unless I want to look like I’m smuggling a basketball under my dress, which is not the sexy holiday look of the season unfortunately.
So what I would like you to do is figure out a couple things you know really wreak havoc on your body and avoid those specific things, but give yourself leeway to indulge (mindfully of course!) in those things you know aren’t going to give you an epic food hangover. Yes food hangovers are real and they are friggen terrible.
My number 1 suggestion is to avoid anything with big chunks of bread or pasta and limit cookies and cakes because these little bastards won’t fill you up and they’re just demons on blood sugar balance.
3. Eat Before the Party
This tip seems fairly straightforward but you might be surprised how much this one little act can make a big difference on how much and on what you end up indulging. Think about the last time you went to the grocery store hungry… did those cookies somehow sneak into your cart? Or if you’re me, did you end up buying your all-time favourite brand of chippies and eating them on the car ride home?
The same concept applies to holiday parties! If you eat a really delicious and filling dinner before you go (say like these ones here or here), you’ll be much more able to indulge mindfully because you’re not a ravenous beast with sugar blinders on. At least if you eat a whack of veggies, yummy proteins, and healthy fats before you go, you’ll have gotten some splendid nutrients into your body before you indulge and your blood sugar will be less likely to spike and crash, leaving you an inflamed, cranky, bloated monster.
4. Follow My Hangover Guide
I’m not the kind of nutritionist who is going to tell you to be a teetotaler this holiday season and move on because frankly that’s just unrealistic and unhelpful. What I will do is provide you with all the sweet nutrients and tips to help you at least avoid the epic post-party hangover.
5. Drink Smoothies & Juices Between Events
Oftentimes at these parties there are very few veggies and fruits consumed, unless they’re baked into some sort of cheese or covered in chocolate, so we can end up missing out on some key micronutrients needed to keep our holiday glow radiating from the inside out.
So what’s a guy or gal to do? Load up on juices and smoothies between events of course! The power of a green smoothie to help calm inflammation caused by too many sugary treats is simply magical. I’ve been enjoying a super simple one lately:
- 1 handful parsley
- 1 handful baby kale
- 1 handful spinach
- 2 inches cucumber
- ½ banana
- 1 apple
- 3 tbsp. hemp hearts
- ½ inch fresh ginger (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup ice
Blend and enjoy!
I also have a ton of other recipes on the blog that you can find here.
6. Maintain Balanced Blood Sugar
You may have noticed a running theme throughout this post. Any guesses? It’s in the title of this tip… that’s right you smart beautiful super hero! It’s our blood sugar. While I definitely think the excessive calories can play a part in the holiday weight gain, what I think is really at the root of our distress is the constant fluctuations in blood sugar, the output of insulin followed by the surge of cortisol as our sugars drop super low again, followed by more sugary treats, keeping us forever in a cycle of fat storage, stress, and inflammation as opposed to fat-burning and relaxation.
You can read a bit more about blood sugar balance here, but suffice it to say that keeping our sugars in check can go a long way to mitigating the some common holiday issues such as:
- Weight gain and water retention
- Puffy eyes, faces, and fingers
- Breakouts and acne
- Angry red skin
A great way to avoid these peaks and valleys in our blood sugar and the shit storm that comes along with them is to make sure we’re balancing our sugary snacks with healthy fats and proteins. This may mean that you bring a small container of nuts and seeds with you to parties to nibble on while you indulge. Or maybe it means eating before you go. Or it could just mean you focus more on some of the less-damaging dips, spreads, and fancy cheeses than on the cakes, pastries, and breads.
Remember, the holiday season is not about restricting yourself, beating yourself up over your food choices, or becoming an anti-social recluse to avoid temptation. The reason I love Christmas so much is that I get to connect with family and friends I only get to see a couple of times a year. The holidays are about community and friendship and making merry, so do the best you can, with what you have, where you are. And remember to enjoy every moment.
Well that’s all for today friends. Do you have any other tips you use to stay on track during the holiday season? Let me know in the comments!
PS: If you want some extra support this holiday season, you can also come join the brand new Facebook Group I started. This group is designed to offer you a behind the scenes look of life as a nutritionist, offer you a place where you can feel supported by other people going through similar life journeys, pick my brains for health tips, and share inspiration on a daily basis. Click here to join us today!