Healthy Holiday Nutrition

The holidays are the time for celebrating with family and friends, but they can also be stressful when we find ourselves addressing difficult relationships and other situations. To cope with these challenges, people can sometimes overindulge in drink, food, and other treats.

Overindulging in food is one way people can self-medicate. Using alcohol is another and can magnify rather than reduce holiday stresses, becoming particularly problematic for individuals in recovery. Consequently, abstaining from alcohol and instead enjoying non-alcoholic drinks, such as flavored waters, are healthier ways to enjoy holiday festivities.

According to holistic nutritionist Lynnel Bjorndal from the NutraPhoria School of Holistic Nutrition, there are many other ways to stay healthy during the holiday season:

Find time each day to move the body

It can be very hard to find time during the holidays for exercise, but the value of exercise extends far beyond the waistline. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety, while boosting mood and energy levels. Just engaging in about 30 minutes of any exercise that raises the heart rate each day can benefit body, mind, and spirit.  

Drink a nutrient packed smoothie 

Enjoy a smoothie made with vitamin-rich foods like spinach, kale, dandelion greens, carrots, cucumber, frozen berries, kefir, ground flax, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and high quality protein powder. When our bodies get the nutrition they need, they are less likely to crave and binge on unhealthy foods, and energy levels remain high.

Don’t skip meals

Many people skip meals in order to leave room for treats. However, arriving at an event hungry increases the odds of overeating.  

Slow down when eating

It is easy to overeat when we don’t give our stomachs a chance to signal fullness. Therefore, in order to feel satisfied, we should eat mindfully, chewing thoroughly and savouring each bite while paying attention to texture and flavour.  

Drink plenty of water

When we do not drink enough water, the body can send signals that mimic hunger leading us to eat more. Add sliced lemons, cucumber, or ginger to plain water for a pop of flavour. Being even slightly dehydrated can also drastically, and negatively, impact energy levels. Ideally, we should drink between eight and 10 glasses of water each day to stay properly hydrated.

Offer to bring a healthy holiday dish to parties 

If we bring healthy dishes to celebrations, then we will have at least one menu item we can enjoy without guilt. A few healthy ideas are chopped up veggies with hummus, baked organic tortilla chips with chunky salsa, or a fruit dish with yogurt dip.

Enjoy tasty foods in small amounts

The trick is to not overindulge. That said, we can enjoy foods that we love but in smaller amounts. By paying attention to the body and recognizing when we have had enough, we can avoid feeling like we’ve overdone it.

Don’t hang out at the food table

Socializing over food is a quick way to eat a lot more than we realize. Making a plate and then moving away from the buffet table to converse with other guests can help keep eating in check.

Limit the sweet stuff

Sugar impairs the immune system up to 75 percent for six to eight hours after indulging. With mingling and handshaking, viruses can spread quickly during the holidays. Sugar also spikes insulin levels leading to an inevitable crash and often depression and anxiety. Having chia or hemp seeds on hand when eating dessert provides fiber that can keep the blood sugar balanced and ward off some of sugar’s negative effects.

Relax

If we overindulge, we shouldn’t stress; those who beat themselves up over food are more likely to binge even more. If we simply stay mindful and listen to our bodies, we are more likely to make healthier choices. By thinking moderation, not deprivation, and forgiving ourselves if we have one too many truffles, we can truly enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season.