The holiday season is approaching quickly, full of commitments, festive meals, gatherings and time with loved ones. All the extra pressure of the holiday season can throw people off track when it comes to health goals, but it doesn’t mean you have to take a break from good health. Here are three strategies that will help keep you on course with your long term health goals.
1. Healthy Eating Habits:
Practice mindful eating: focus on relaxed, slow eating with thorough chewing. Enjoy the flavors, textures and smells. This will not only help your body produce important digestive enzymes, but help properly break down food and absorb nutrients. Slower eaters are less likely to experience heartburn and gas than those who eat more quickly. Slow mindful eating also will give your body proper time to create satiety hormones that will signal your brain when you are full. Mindful eating techniques have not only been shown to help rectify disordered eating habits, but can be an important tool for healthy weight maintenance. Even if you’re enjoying a treat here or there during the holiday season, mindful eating strategies can help you stay on track with your long term diet goals.
Stay on track with healthy meals: Invited to a holiday potluck? Bring a delicious, healthy, nutrient dense option! Here are some of our favorite paleo dishes to bring along for the holidays:
Set healthy Diet Boundaries: while still allowing for some indulgence. Diet boundaries will vary per person, but include personalized rules to help you stay on track. Here are some examples of diet boundaries:
-Not skipping meals to “save up” for that indulgent dinner
-If you do indulge in a sweet, skip the carbs in your next meal
-Paying attention to your bodily cues so you can recognize when you feel satisfied
-Drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume
-Using a small plate at buffets to manage portions
-Make half of each plate you consume non-starchy vegetables
-Avoid negative self talk and give yourself permission to indulge in reasonable portions
-Prioritizing protein and fiber to help you feel full
2. Prioritize Sleep:
Making sure that you get sufficient sleep over the holidays will not only give you better immunity, mental health and focus, but help regulate your body’s hunger hormones and sugar utilization. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night for their body to work optimally. Going without sleep can actually lead to increases in sugar cravings, weight gain, lowered immunity and poor mood. Here are some strategies to promote a great night’s sleep:
-Sleep in a cool environment
-Limit screen time 2 hours before bedtime
-Try for complete darkness in your room
-Avoid eating at least 3 hours before bed
-avoid caffeine and alcohol
3. Incorporate Some Movement:
If you miss your regularly scheduled work out, try to find ways to incorporate movement when you can. Here are some suggestions:
-Going to the store? Park further away to get those steps in!
-Tempted to take an elevator? Opt for the stairs!
-Avoid drive-thrus and walk in instead
-Help an elderly person at the grocery store load their car with groceries
-Invite loved ones to take a walk with you after dinner
-Do some stretches while watching TV
Remember, it’s not all or nothing! Progress is rarely a straight line and if you fall off the wagon, you can certainly pick yourself right back up. Treating your body well is the highest form of respect you can give yourself.