The Christmas holidays are my absolute favourite time of year. Every year for Christmas my family and I fly back home to New Brunswick to spend the holidays with our giant extended family at my parents’ cottage. Even though I’m currently living in BC and it can be quite a trek getting to the other side of the country during one of the busiest times of year, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s the only place I want to be for the holidays.
With the holidays quickly approaching, the opportunities to indulge can seem like they’re in endless supply. Work parties, friends parties, spouses’ work parties, office treats, an unlimited amount of specialty drinks and holiday offerings at your local coffee shop and the list goes on. What about the health goals you’ve been working hard on all year long? How do you navigate this time of year so you don’t gain any extra weight, indulge in too many treats and throw all of your healthy habits out the window?
I always have a few clients who are concerned and ask me how I think they should navigate this indulgent time of year. Do you know what I always tell them? RELAX!! Enjoy your holidays and indulge in the foods you want to indulge in. This time of year is so special, and there are so many special foods that you don’t get to enjoy all throughout the year. Savour this special time with your loved ones and enjoy the foods that are apart of your family traditions without stressing yourself out about it.
How We Enjoy Our Holiday with Family
I typically don’t have much dairy in my diet, but on Christmas eve my aunt Kathy always makes a giant batch of seafood chowder made with cream, butter, cheese – you know, the works – and I always savour every bite of that chowder with a buttered, white, gluten-filled roll ta boot. They’ll be many other indulgences just like that while I’m home too; my Nan’s famous dressing with Christmas dinner, my uncle Lloyd’s “Mountain Breakfast” on boxing day, Gram’s brown sugar fudge, my Dads lasagna at our open house party and a seemingly unlimited supply of traditional Christmas cookies and squares made my mom, aunts, and cousins. And do you know how much time I spend worrying about sugar content, added dairy, or avoiding gluten? NONE!
My Take on Healthy Living
I love the work I do as a Holistic Nutritionist and I think it’s more important than ever that we take our health seriously and we nourish our bodies with natural whole foods. I think we all need to be aware of what we put in our bodies and how the food we eat affects every aspect of our life: how we feel, our energy levels, our sleep, our mood, our longevity, and our weight. I also think that there are exceptions to the rules and for me, the Christmas holiday is one of them.
Now I’m not suggesting from December 1st to January 1st you throw all caution to the wind and indulge in every morsel of holiday goodness that comes your way. Inevitably, these fun foods will still cause you to feel bloated and tired and leave you with cravings for more of the sweet stuff. But only YOU get to decide what foods are totally worth it, and you get to make your own decisions around what foods to indulge in.
Here are my tips for enjoying this season without the guilt and fear of gaining weight.
1. Continue to Drink Plenty of Water
Not only is drinking water extremely important for every single cell in the body, it will also help keep curb your appetite. Plus, if you’re indulging in adult beverages this time of year, you’ll want to up the water intake even more.
2. Eat a Nutritious Meal Before Going to a Party
Invited for drinks and appies at a friend’s house? Be sure to fill up on a nutritious meal full of good quality fat, protein, and fiber before you go. This way you won’t be grazing on chips, crackers and other empty calories to fill you up. Then you can choose a few things to indulge in and move on.
3. Move Your Body
It doesn’t have to be anything complicated and you don’t have to do it for long, but I always find that when I bundle up and go for a nice 30-minute walk outside I feel so much better. Better yet, get outside and do a fun winter activity! Tobogganing, skating, skiing, snowshoeing, or even build a snowman!
4. Do NOT Step on a Scale!
Please, please, please do not let the scale be any part of your holiday plans. Simply indulging in more sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods than you’re used to will have your body holding onto extra water weight. Stepping on the scale and thinking you gained 4 pounds in 24 hours will leave you feeling totally discouraged. First off, you’re probably going to gain a few pounds over the holidays, second… WHO CARES!! It’s about what you do the other 50 weeks of the year that determines your health – not what you do at Christmas.
5. Have a Plan to Get Back on Track in January
A plan to get back on track doesn’t mean that you try to be “perfect” in the New Year. It doesn’t mean that you obsess over calories and punish yourself with intense workouts in the gym. Having a plan to get back on track can be as simple as promising to make meal planning and prepping a priority when you get back into a routine.
I hope that reading this post helps take the stress out of holiday eating, and you can truly enjoy the traditions of this special time of year with the ones you love. I would love to know what your favourite holiday traditions around food are. Let me know in the comments below!