5 Proven Tips for a Happy Holiday Body
The holiday season is fast approaching and that means dinners, potlucks, parties and guests with very little time for regular healthy habits. Avoid self-sabotage and keep your body and mind vibrant, energized, and strong this winter with my top 5 tips for a happy, healthy holiday body.
1. Go in with a plan.
Decide ahead of time what you will and will not eat at a party -and stick to it. If you have dietary restrictions let a host know ahead of time, and if the host is unable to accommodate, offer to bring a dish that you know will be a crowd-pleaser. If you are going to a party at a restaurant, call ahead of time to know what is being served so you can plan accordingly, alternatively eat fresh, filling food before you go to an event. This will not only help you make healthier choices, but help you avoid guilt and stress if you enjoy something more indulgent. If a cookie was part of the plan, you’ve already accepted the cookie into your heart. Don’t be that person stressing about calories and talking about how you are powerless to the office candy bowl; be in the moment and enjoy your food. Your body, spirit, and friends will thank you. And if you’re like me and have a severe allergy (I see crab cakes at a party, I’m reaching for the backup almonds in my purse), or if you are trying to manage your weight, always have a plan.
2. Fill up on vegetables first.
This one is really simple; you physically will not be able to stuff yourself with pumpkin pie if you are already stuffed with roasted vegetables and salad. If you are hosting a holiday dinner, you can make my roasted vegetables ahead of time and simply reheat in the oven or even serve cold with olive oil and lemon dressing. Some of my fall and winter favorites are roasted acorn squash, carrots, fennel and more. Need a “mic drop” veggie dish for a potluck? Bring delicious mashed cauliflower or parsnip to thanksgiving and watch everyone go berserk when they realize they aren’t potatoes.
3. Water before wine.
Have a glass of sparkling water with a lime or lemon slice before and in between hitting the hard stuff. This very simple choice can help you limit empty calories from one extra glass of chard, it can save you money if the party doesn’t have an open bar, and it can keep you sober so you can remember all the super embarrassing things that Sandra’s assistant said to you, “in confidence.” Each glass of wine has about 125 calories, while martinis are usually about 200 calories each. Most people have two to three drinks at holiday parties; we’re talking potentially 400-600 calories that have no nutritional value, and actually inhibit certain vitamin activity due to the alcohol content. You know what else is about 600 calories? Lunch.
4. Party sweetly, live cleanly.
Celebrations are meant to be fun, and if you’re loaded with guilt over eating a cookie, you won’t have a good time, nor will you be great company. Limit sugar in daily life, enjoy it at the office party in moderation. Sip a holiday cocktail at the bash, but don’t keep alcohol in the house for the month of December. When you do enjoy a cookie or a glass of boozy spiced cider, pre-set a limit for yourself and stick to it: 1 piece of pie. 1 peppermint mocha martini. That’s it. And as always, don’t drink and drive. When you aren’t toasting with friends, consume loads of veggies with clean protein and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods and try to get plenty of fiber in your diet to help slow down sugar spikes in case you absolutely have to have a candy cane. Be realistic, and don’t beat yourself up for hitting the apple cobbler, just make sure you eat the Brussels sprouts, too.
5. Proactively manage stress.
The pressure of end-of-the-year work quotas, social obligations, family events, travel and colder weather can stress the body, breaking your holiday spirit, and your immune system. Load up on meditation podcasts on your phone, keep your yoga mat by the front door, and keep a daily gratitude journal to help keep holiday stress in check. A simple breathing exercise can help calm your nervous system and support healthier digestion, but it can also keep you from slapping smack-talking drunk Aunt Sally. We love Aunt Sally.
My favorite breathing exercise that I learned from Dr. Andrew Weil while studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is below. You can do this even with all the in-laws watching (it’ll be our little secret):
- Breathe in while counting (in your head) to 4
- Hold your breath and count to 7
- Breathe out on a count of 8
Wishing you happy and healthy feasting and partying! As always, if you need extra support, sign up for your free coaching session with me and let’s plan you a delicious, body-friendly holiday season and beyond.
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