December has arrived... and that means that the internet is flooded with all kinds of "healthy holiday tips and tricks". It's a topic that has become pretty #BasicBlogger, if you ask me. Don't get me wrong, it's a time of the year that a lot of people struggle with, and I know that we all like to have guidelines to follow, but at the same time, I just feel like the constant rules and pressure that we put on ourselves can get exhausting.
I'm a firm believer in balance, and that means if I have control over the Christmas baking, you better believe that it will be packed with extra nutrients and ingredients that I can feel good about. But I'm also going to be real and say that I'm 100% going to dip into that Pot o' Gold if I find myself near an open box.
The beautiful thing about nourishing our bodies with a variety of good quality whole foods is that we put ourselves into a position where we can then handle some not-so-great choices. By giving ourselves the building blocks and nutrients that we need in order for our bodies to perform optimally, we can afford to indulge a little without feeling like total crap for days to come.
The real issue comes from accumulation. When we consume processed foods and artificial ingredients on a daily basis (which, let's be real, most people do), we continuously knock down our defences, and can eventually end up in a "straw that broke the camel's back" situation. Not to mention the fact that processed foods are often addictive, and once we get into the habit of eating them all the time, our body will start to crave them more and more.
It's all about the 80/20 rule; build your body up 80% of the time with beneficial whole foods, and 20% of the time, nourish your soul and indulge a little.
And that should be the case ALL year; not only in December.
That being said, I'm going to contribute to the never-ending holiday advice and give my two cents. So... who wants the tips and tricks to stay healthy this holiday season?!
1. Chill out.
How we feel is directly impacted by what we think. If you consume something during the holidays that you wouldn't normally include in your diet, and you spend the entire time panicking in your head about how sick you're going to feel after, and how awful it is that you're eating it... what do you think is going to happen? Your brain is going to send a signal to your body to GET RID of whatever you are consuming because it is BAD.
I'm not saying that you can eat an entire box of cookies as long as you have a positive mindset, I'm just saying that you have to pick your battles, even within yourself. Give yourself a break when you sit down to dinner with your family. Enjoy your favourite childhood treats. As long as you're not dealing with any serious health concerns, give yourself permission to drop the "rules". And make sure to savour every single bite.
Oh man, when I hear things like "I'm just not going to eat all day because I'm going to eat all the things at my Christmas party tonight"... I just want to smack people. *sorrynotsorry* NEWS FLASH - it doesn't work like that. It's actually incredibly counter productive to skip meals so that you can indulge later on! If anything, I would recommend that you eat MORE on days that you have events happening. You'll feel better mentally because you won't arrive at your party feeling hangry, you'll be able to enjoy a glass or two of wine without them going straight to your head, and you'll make better food choices because you won't be influenced by how hungry you are. Plus, you'll feel much better the next morning because you made sure to nourish yourself throughout the day, even though you enjoyed some treats as well. Remember the 80/20 rule!
3. Be mindful, and listen to your body.
Being mindful about the choices that we make is a real game changer. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but it isn't! The easiest thing to do is to fall into a mindless trap after giving ourselves that permission to indulge over the holiday season, so do your best to not let that happen. Remember that indulging does not equal giving up on everything until January.
This can be a stressful time of year, so make sure to incorporate movement into each day, and check in from time to time to make sure that you're being kind to yourself and giving yourself any breaks that you need. Be mindful when eating; taking the time to consciously enjoy your favourite treat will stop you from eating 5 of them before you even realize what's happening. If your health is suffering and you know that allowing yourself to indulge just isn't in your best interest this year, be sure to stay true to that as well.
When you make yourself a priority, and put yourself first whenever you can (some say that's selfish; I say it's smart), you will automatically begin to make better and healthier choices each day. There's no "perfect" balance in life, but when you incorporate better choices into your daily routine, eventually you won't even have to think about "how to stay healthy over the holidays".
You'll just be healthy. And you'll feel good. All the time.
Doesn't that sound ideal?