7 Easy, Affordable and Healthy Tips to Survive The Holidays

Healthy Lifestyle

26 November 2015

It’s the week of one of America’s beloved holidays, and I’m willing to bet I can guess one thing that is on pretty much everyone’s mind- FOOD.

A meme of Ned Stark saying Brace yourself, holiday food is coming

For some visions of turkey and stuffing bring about feelings of joy and excitement, but for others who may be trying to lose weight, reach a certain level of health, or juggle multiple family obligations-  it can be seriously stressful. How does one trying to stay the course keep from getting derailed on their morning jogs when they’re traveling or don’t feel they have the time due to family commitments? How do you stop eating when you’re actually full instead of going back for seconds or thirds until you’re sick with not only stomach pains but self-loathing and regret? Or what does one do after they’ve polished off the rest of the pumpkin pie and aren’t sure how to ever get back on track?

A meme with Louis C.K. saying The meal is not over when I'm full, the meal is over when I hate myself

You’re not alone- we’ve all had those moments

These are legit concerns I know some of you are worried about- and believe me I’ve been there. For someone who was obsessed to an unhealthy degree with all things food and diet, I was one of those people that really struggled. Because I didn’t normally LET myself have fatty foods and dessert- and so I worried and fixated on whether or not to let myself try a piece of the pie that year, knowing full well it would most likely lead to three pieces. Or would it be better to deprive myself of something I loved and looked forward to every year since I was little in order to maintain my weight and not “feel bad about myself”?

A meme of Ned Stark saying One does not simply have only one piece of pie on Thanksgiving

OMG- Right?!

I’m so grateful this is no longer the case (at least for the most part- I mean we all have our days right)? I’ve since stopped depriving myself of the things I love- ESPECIALLY during the holidays- and instead have learned to achieve what I believe to be a healthy balance- so that I can enjoy the food yes, but more importantly so I can enjoy myself. There’s no self-loathing, no regrets and NO more tummy-aches- instead there is the gift of being present, of enjoying the here and now with the people I love the most.

It was no easy feat for me to accomplish this and it took a lot of time, a lot of mindfulness and other things in my life to take place, so I don’t want to advertise that achieving this healthier mindset was an easy feat. However there are a few tried and true tips and tricks that have really helped throughout the years and I always fall back on to help me look and feel my best (especially during busy times like these when I need it most).

The best part? They’re super simple. relatively inexpensive,  and don’t involve dieting, calorie-counting or Biggest Loser-eque workouts.

Nothing to it, but to do it.

1. Get your drink on-

Lauren having fresh coconut water next to a fish spa tank

Getting my hydration on with fresh coconut water in Bali

No, I’m not talking about spiked apple cider (although you can have that as well). I’m talking about H2O yo. Hydration is key to keep things moving and properly functioning in your body and helps carry out waste and other toxins. Also there’s been a ton of research that has shown people commonly mistake dehydration for hunger. Start each day with a cup of warm water with lemon (which is extremely alkalizing and helps aid in detoxing the body) and set a timer to remind yourself to drink a cup of water every hour or so. I carry a 33 oz water bottle around with me wherever I go and refill it three times throughout the day in order to keep track of how much I’m drinking.

2. Eat mindfully-

Lauren's husband enjoying pizza in Italy

Hubs mindfully enjoying his pizza in Italy (and no he did not eat the whole thing 🙂 )

Do you ever notice how you tend to digest food better when you’re on vacation? You’re present with the people around you, enjoying the new scenery, and savoring every bite of your delicious meal. DO THIS in your every day life, and you’ll notice a huge difference in how you digest food and how much you actually eat. Being present and in the moment allows you to check in with your body and gage whether or not you’re full. You’re also giving yourself a chance to taste and appreciate your food, which signals satisfaction. So try whenever you can to eliminate sad desk lunches whilst staring at your laptop, munching on whatever appetizer is in front of you at your holiday party or stuffing your face with caramels while you scroll through instagram (I know, the struggle is real). Instead pile your plate (once) with the things you love, engage in conversation with the ones you love, and revel in how good that feels and how little else you really need.

3. Fit in enough zzz’s-

Lauren's dog, Dexter sleeping on the couch

Dexter always makes sure to fit in a nap

We all know by now that sleep is important. Not getting enough can affect weight gain, insulin sensitivity, cognition, hormones and result in higher risk of fat gain and general obesity- not pretty.  Studies recommend 7-9 hours as optimal, however it’s not just about the hours, but the quality as well (reaching REM sleep is key for restoring health). This time of year can be tough to achieve restorative sleep, especially with the holiday stress, parties and late nights, booze and rich foods- which can all affect how you doze. Not to worry, one of my fave nutritionist’s has some awesome, simple recommendations to follow to help get your 8 hours. I find that turning off all electronics at least an hour before bed, meditating for 10 minutes, drinking caffeine-free tea and reading in bed all work well for me. Which brings me to…

4. Meditate-

Practicing Pranayama breathing and meditation in Bali with our instructor

Practicing Pranayama breathing and meditation in Bali with our instructor

I know, I know you’ve probably heard it before but meditation is KEY for stress relief, which we’ve already talked about tends to build up this season. Neurologists have found those who meditate also have less of the stress hormone cortisol- which floods the body with glucose as it goes into “fight or flight” response (which is very taxing on our immune system) and also results in storing the cortisol as visceral fat- YUCK. So coming full circle, meditation is an amazing way to clear your mind, boost your immune system and fight weight gain. I cannot recommend the headspace app enough- which is a guided 10 minute meditation you do daily. Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and try it first thing in the am, at night before bed, or whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed and just need a break. Your mind and bod will thank you.

5. Eat REAL Food- 

Sweet potato mash and roasted artichokes on a white plate

We all have our favorite holiday foods- but before you go reaching for the canned cranberry sauce, costco cookies or velveeta cheese dip, I encourage you to instead make or buy the REAL deal. Most holiday items can be made easily at home, or modified using real ingredients which taste a whole heck of a lot better (velveeta or high quality sharp cheddar?) and are much easier to digest (your stomach has a hard time figuring out how to break down chemicals and processed foods that it wasn’t made to digest). Eating high quality ingredients will also signal that full and satisfied feeling much sooner, and you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of the good stuff. And if you HAVE to have your pie topped with redi-whip, just have a small scoop, eat it mindfully and move on.

6. Get MOVING- 

Lauren, her husband, and their dog on a hike

We love hiking, but when it gets too cold we switch it up with trail runs and winter sports

I know, another obvious tip but I can’t recommend this one enough. Although exercise is key to losing or maintaining weight, what’s more important (IMO) is that it also releases serotonin (a bodily chemical that regulates mood balance), which is especially important in holiday situations where emotional stress may be higher than normal. Do what works for you- whether that may be yoga, walking, running, pilates, spinning, crossfit, rock-climbing, hiking, etc. There are so many ways to keep moving, even doing chores around the house or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help (umm holiday shopping anyone?). Also try and get a routine going- if you’re a morning person exercising first thing is a great option, but if you can’t function until you’ve had your cup of coffee and breakfast shoot for later in the day. It’s all about finding what works best for you and sticking to it.

7. Treat YOSELF-

If it's important, you'll find a way. If it isn't, you'll find an excuse.

Last but certainly NOT least, making time for yourself is crucial to maintain balance during the cray cray holiday season. The holidays often revolve around other people- which is wonderful- but can also be exhausting. You can only do so much for other peeps if you’re not looking after your own health and wellbeing (think about how much more energized you are playing with your kids or nieces and nephews when you’ve had a full nights sleep or gotten your morning workout in?) So prioritize your own needs and schedule time for yourself in the calendar- whether it’s that yoga session you’ve been craving, an afternoon nap, or that massage you desperately need. This also includes not being afraid to say NO- you can only do so much and devote time to so many causes- prioritize the events that are most important to you- you’ll be more present, enjoy them more, and I guarantee people will enjoy being around you more as a result.

So that’s it- my roundup of simple and healthy ways to survive the madness of the holiday season. What do you think? Can you commit to any of these? Are there any other tips or tricks that help you maintain balance? Please leave comments below- always love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!

Keep calm and enjoy your holiday.