It's that time again, the holiday season is officially upon us and here is my holiday vision for you:
You go through your days enjoying seasonal treats without stress, regret, or going overboard.
You effortlessly navigate holiday parties, family gatherings, and travel.
You enter into the new year feeling good in your skin but not feeling like you had to deprive yourself to get there.
How do we make that happen? By following my 12 holiday hacks!
1. Make small swaps in your favorite recipes and/or try new recipes.
Non-holiday days are perfect for trying out totally new recipes because there isn't the pressure of making all of your traditional treats on the actual day. Look up whole30 or paleo dessert recipes and you may be surprised to find some options you like even more than your go-to's.
On the actual holiday I understand wanting to make the recipes you've used for years. But there are some simple swaps you can make that won't affect the flavor or texture, but that will improve your body's response to said food:
Swap white sugar for coconut sugar or monk fruit, swap regular flour for the 1:1 gluten free flour, swap milk for canned coconut milk, and swap canola oil for avocado oil.
2. Remember it's only one day.
You're not going to ruin anything in one day. So if you're unwilling to tweak your family recipes, that's fine! Enjoy those family classics on the holiday you're celebrating, but then be done. (See tip 5 for how to handle the leftover dilemma.)
3. Remember it's only one day.
It's not a holi-WEEK or holi-MONTH. Letting yourself off the hook when it comes to healthy choices for weeks or months on end is only going to leave you with eater's remorse.
The goal of the holidays is not to stuff our face until we say uncle; it's to enjoy enough treats to bring us joy but not so much that they bring us regret.
4. Keep it simple.
I've never quite understood our cultural approach to Thanksgiving.
We spend hours upon hours slaving away in the kitchen to make a massive feast, stuff ourselves until we pass out on the couch bloated and exhausted, and then spend a week eating the same starchy leftovers more out of obligation than anything because we don't want to waste the food.
How is that fun and who says we have to keep doing it that way?
This is how I personally approach Thanksgiving (I absolutely love it and it's totally stress free): I pick one starchy side (like sweet potatoes OR mashed potatoes OR stuffing), one non-starchy side (I like brussels sprouts with bacon and cranberries), turkey, and one dessert. And then I make those dishes in normal dinner amounts.
If I'm making mashed potatoes for 4, I make 4 servings, not enough to feed an army. This makes cooking dinner quick, easy, stress-free, and I don't have to worry about dealing with leftovers.
5. Stop scarfing leftovers.
Now if you do end up making more than necessary, eating leftovers day in and day out to get it out of the house is not your only option.
Share leftovers with friends or family, throw them out (gasp, I know, but you can do it!), or freeze individual servings that you can enjoy in moderation over the next couple of months.
6. Master mindful eating.
Here's a holiday challenge for you: for one minute before your meals inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds in order to slow yourself down before your meal and help with digestion.
Then use all 5 senses to fully take in and appreciate your meal. Chew each bite 30 times while truly savoring the flavor of each bite. And stop eating when you're 70% full.
Following these mindful eating techniques will allow you to enjoy even your most decadent meals in moderation without feeling deprived because you've actually tasted and fully appreciated your food.
7. Celebrate with more than just food.
Join a turkey trot, find holiday crafts, go to a parade, play games with your family, and find other fun non-food traditions to incorporate.
I just sent a new one to my family that I saw on Instagram, it's an Iceland tradition where you exchange books and read them on Christmas Eve!
8. Do not 'save up' your calories for holiday indulgences.
Skipping meals is a recipe for disaster. You'll create a major blood sugar crash which will cause bigger cravings for starchy, sugary food. Your body will increase its hunger hormones and reduce its satiety hormones making you more likely to overindulge. And it raises cortisol, a fat storage hormone, making it more likely that you'll store that Thanksgiving meal on your waistline.
9. Continue your commitment to daily movement.
The world does no have to stop because it's the holiday season. Just because you're allowing yourself to have a few more treats than usual doesn't mean you have to forgo all your healthy habits.
Still get your movement in, still eat your veggies, still drink your water, and still prioritize good sleep.
10. Follow this Woman Code advice to bounce back after too many carbs/sugar.
Take a B-complex to support your adrenals, quercitin to lower inflammation, 2 tbsp ground flax seed to help move things along in your digestive tract more smoothly, eat fiber and healthy fat asap to stabilize your blood sugar, incorporate a high intensity interval training session that day, and move your body within an hour of eating so your muscles use those carbs instead of storing them as fat.
11. Follow this Woman Code advice to bounce back after too much alcohol.
Take a dose of inositol to detoxify the liver, vitamin C Esther to combat stress in the cells, a b-complex to recover more quickly from dehydration (take before bed and when you wake up the next morning), electrolytes before you go to sleep (I like LMNT), take a yoga class to calm the adrenals, detoxify the organs, and prevent a backup of estrogen with gentle body twists, drink a smoothie the next day consisting of 4 stalks of celery, half a cucumber, half a bunch of cilantro, 1/3 a bunch of parsley, 1/2 of a lemon with rind, 1/2 a green apple, and a small carrot, and finally (my little addition) take 2000 mg turmeric (with pepper or piperine listed in the ingredients) ideally before you start drinking and again before you go to bed.
12. Don't put your foot on the gas or the breaks in terms of your weight loss goals. This is the time to coast.
Extremes are the enemy and the holiday season is no exception.
It's not going to benefit you to have a lofty weight loss goal during this time because it's going to cause unnecessary stress when faced with the inevitable holiday parties, happy hours, and family feasts we face.
Saying 'fuck it' to all of your health goals for the next 3 months is also not going to benefit you because Future You is going to be forced to deal with the aftermath. You'll be kicking yourself that you're so far behind the eight ball come January 1st.
So use this time to coast and maintain. Stay mindful of incorporating healthy habits, but loosen the reigns a bit and allow for some holiday fun!