staying healthy during the holidays

We're fast approaching the holiday season and that usually means a lot of parties. This is of course tons of fun, but it can also be stressful for a lot of other reasons. Just one of those reasons can be that fear that you will gain weight or have no control over what you eat. It can be really easy to overdo it around this time, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Because at the end of the day, we know what we should be eating, but lack this apparent "willpower" to say no. (Hint- it has nothing to do with your willpower.) Read on for some simple tips and strategies, from holistic nutritionist, Jaclyn Irwin, that you can use to be more in tune with your body and mind during the holidays.

This isn’t your typical staying healthy during the holidays blog post, because there are already like 109393884 articles on this, as a rough estimate. I want to dive a little deeper into the reasons you may overdo it and what to do rather than simply saying, “Move away from the cheese plate!” The idea that we don’t have control or willpower around food is BS. We feel out of control around food because our relationship to it is often times so messed up. We are so used to being on a diet of some kind and demonizing certain foods that when we are surrounded by it at a party, we don’t know what to do. We feel like we may never get a chance to eat that food again and if the diet starts Monday, then the weekend is basically our last supper. We often feel guilty for eating things like cake, cookies or chips and rather than enjoy them as a treat, we binge on them to avoid dealing with this guilt. If this sounds familiar, then I hope this blog post all about staying healthy during the holidays is helpful for you.

The tips I want to provide are ones that I personally use and don’t require any extra work. What they do require is some self love and respect. If you constantly berate yourself for eating xyz, that guilt will do so much more than just eating that food in the first place. There are various reasons for overdoing it during the holiday season, let’s get to them and discover how to stay healthy during the holidays.

 

REASON #1: YOUR BLOOD SUGAR IS IMBALANCED

I talk about blood sugar balancing so often because it really is the ultimate way to food freedom, in my opinion. When your blood sugar is stable, you won’t experience the up and down roller coaster of emotions and be tempted to binge eat. If your meals aren’t well balanced with protein, fiber and fat, you will get cravings for sweets and carbs mostly, and parties are the perfect atmosphere to overdo it.

What to do: Before you head out to any party, you should aim to have something that is well balanced beforehand. A simple way to do this is with a fuelling smoothie that contains protein, fat and fiber. It doesn’t have to be a smoothie, but I personally find this is the easiest way to fuel your body. Making a smoothie doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes, and it’s portable so you can take it with you even as you are heading out the door. My morning smoothies last me all morning and I don’t feel hungry, so I know they can do the same for you. Now, what if you didn’t follow this advice and you ate all the things? You can easily reset the next day with a smoothie or other meal that is well balanced (again, meaning it contains protein, fiber and fat). No need to jump on a juice cleanse, detox or diet, just make your next meal blood sugar balanced. And the easiest way to do that is with a smoothie.

 

REASON #2: YOU DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL

Two words: OPEN BAR! Holiday parties are notorious for having an open bar and for some reason we think this means that we have to drink all the alcohol. As if all of it will be gone the next day… so we drink and this lowers our inhibitions and makes it oh so easy to overindulge.

What to do: Slow down! Seriously, that is the first thing you can do. Before you arrive, make sure you drink lots of water. Then while you are at the party, slow down and breathe. It can be so easy to get lost in the crowd and lose track of yourself in the moment, so the best thing you can do to come back to yourself is to breathe. Okay, the next tip is to try and drink a glass of water with every drink you have, this will help fill you up (as alcohol dehydrates you) and keep you slightly more clear headed. Try and stick to drinks that are made with simple ingredients like soda water, water or low sugar wines. Then add flavour to that with lemons and limes. This is a better option than using juice or soda as the base because those are high in sugar and pretty much just empty calories.

 

REASON #3: YOU STOCK UP ON ALL THE LITTLE THINGS

In line with reason #1, you may be hangry and start to eat all the things. Like every appetizer that comes your way and if you’re feeling a little socially awkward you may stick to the food table so you have something to do. All of this mindless snacking adds up and before you know it, you’ve eaten a plate full of appetizers and then an entree followed by dessert. It never feels good when you overeat, so it is best to avoid stocking up on all the little things coming your way.

What to do: The best thing to do is to make sure you aren’t starving before you arrive to the party. Again, try to remember to breathe, eat mindfully and chew your food rather than just swallowing and downing a drink to wash it down. Don’t be afraid to indulge by any means if something really catches your eye, just try and be in tune with your body, its needs and wants.

 

REASON #4: YOU ARE EATING YOUR FEELINGS (AKA- STRESS EATING)

Oh boy, the holidays are stressful for so many reasons, I get that 1000%. Often times when we find ourselves mindlessly eating, it can be purely from an emotional level rather than an actual physical one. To avoid this, it is important to determine when you find yourself emotionally eating to be aware of it and deal with it, without eating everything in sight.

What to do: Change your vibration and energy if possible. The best way to do this is to change your environment, meaning you physically remove yourself from the place that is causing the stress. Having a dedicated self care practice that helps you focus on what is important and dealing with the stress in a positive way is the most ideal. When I refer to a self care practice that can be something like meditation, yoga, journaling, a warm bath or positive affirmations. Whatever is going to help you to reduce the external stress that can cause the stress eating – do that. Although a glass of wine is nice, it isn’t an ideal way to deal with the real stress and can lead to binge eating, see reason #2 above!

 

REASON #5: YOU DIDN’T EAT ANYTHING BEFOREHAND

Showing up to any event or party when you are starving is not a good idea. When you are starving, you are much more likely to overeat and binge.

What to do: Make sure to eat something light yet satisfying before you head out. You don’t need to eat a full meal by any means, just make sure you have had something to eat. I recommend one of those amazing, fuelling smoothies I mentioned above. This way you can pack a lot of greens in it (fiber!), protein and fat, which again, all help to stabilize your blood sugar. Smoothies are quick, easy and portable so you don’t need to put in much effort to make/drink one.

Overall, try not to stress about the holidays too much. They are a time of joy, although I know they can also be quite stressful for some. In order to feel your best throughout the holidays and beyond, focus on self care practices that make you feel good long term. Often times we do things in the moment that feel good and then regret them later (hello hangover). So try to breathe, center yourself and create some kind of time for you throughout all of the chaos. I promise this will help ease the hectic pace that comes with the holiday season.

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