We all know this time of year all too well. It always seems to creep up on us rather quickly. We're excited to spend time with family and friends, eat and drink and overindulge, but when the holidays start to settle, we are left feeling bloated, tired, and unmotivated.
Have no fear! I want you to feel light, energized and ready to get back at it during and after that holiday season!
Here are my 10 Tips for a Guilt-Free Holiday Season!
1. Don't Skip Breakfast
Skipping breakfast will only set you up for a rollercoaster ride of blood sugar highs and lows. Upon waking is generally the longest we go without eating. It is for this reason that your blood sugar can invariably drop, leading you to consume and crave more sweets and unnecessary calories.
Start off with a balanced breakfast to curb your appetite and keep those blood sugar levels stable, maybe an easy breakfast casserole to feed the whole family. Try this egg & sausage bake recipe here.
2. Get In Enough Protein, Healthy Fats & Vegetable
All these components of a meal are essential for stabilizing your blood sugar as well. We all get plenty of protein on thanksgiving, but we also get plenty of carbs. I'm not necessarily saying to avoid all the 'bad' stuff, but maybe try to drop a tablespoon of butter on your mashed potatoes or find some balance by incorporating roasted vegetables. Protein, fat and vegetable will also help keep you more satiated and signal when you're full.
3. Chew Your Food Slowly
It takes 20 minutes to reach satiety. Not to mention, in order to digest your food, your body must be in a relaxed state. If we chew our food quickly without allowing the brain to register we are eating, enzymes that help digest our food are not released. If we are not digesting our food properly, this causes a lot of bacteria to accumulate in the stomach from maldigested proteins, fats, and carbs.
Be thankful for your food - say a blessing, take deep breaths, put your fork down between each bite. This well allow for digestion to take its natural course.
4. Stay Hydrated
Feelings of thirst are often mistaken for feelings of hunger in the body. Water plays a key role in digestion and allowing your body to detox. If you're going to take away any tips from this list, please make sure you are drinking water!
Read my article on water here to learn more about its many roles, what individualized amount is right for you, and how much water to consume after drinking any coffee, tea, juice or alcohol.
5. Avoid the Self-Blame Game, Follow an 80/20 Rule
Guys, no one ever gets anywhere by playing the self-blame game. It's a holiday. You're with family and friends and you're allowed to enjoy it. Guilting yourself will not make you feel any better. However, I do think it's important to follow an 80/20 rule.
- Mashed Potatoes with full-fat cream and real butter are better than a sweet potato casserole covered in marshmallows.
- Coconut milk ice cream is better than Ben & Jerry's
- Sharing a small slice of pie is better than having two large slices of pie
Be mindful, actively choose what you want to eat, and try to balance it with other healthy options.
6. Bring the Dessert
And if all else fails, bring the healthy option! I say specifically dessert, because this is where most feel they have their "downfall". It is not your lack of willpower that leaves you going for several pieces of cookie or cakes. Sugar is addicting. So, if you're someone who feels like sugar is something you can't limit, I definitely recommend bringing your own dessert.
Look for recipes that use raw honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar as their sweetener. This is easiest when searching for "Paleo Desserts"
7. Make Time for Self-Care
The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for everyone. Just remember to take time for yourself. Whether it's 15 minutes alone in your room, meditation, going on a walk, taking a nap, or enlisting help in others, remember that if you put yourself first it can help enrich the time you spend with family and friends. You're less stressed, less rundown, more cheerful, more present, more conversational and more joyful.
8. Get Enough Sleep
This kind of branches of the umbrella of self-care. Making sure you get enough sleep is so so important. We are much more capable of handling stress and giving our bodies time to detox when we prioritize sleep. I always recommended at least 8 hours or at least some time to take a nap leading up to the big day.
9. Get Up & Move
Most people set high expectations for a workout and think it has to be 60 minutes for it to even count. That is NOT true. Even a simple walk outside will help get the digestive tract moving, get you some fresh air, and maybe more time with family or hey, without em! haha whichever you feel is necessary.
Also, check out my article Tips to Eat, Drink, and Enjoy Your Fourth to find two easy, effective 20-minute workouts!
And last, but of course not least...alcohol
10. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol converts to sugar and is stored in the muscle, liver and fat cells, so it can throw your blood sugar off balance. Alcohol also creates a heavy burden on the liver, so it's important to take these tips into consideration to stabilize blood sugar and increase the antioxidant rich properties in the beverages you are consuming.
- Consume alcohol after a meal to lessen the blood sugar impacts
- Always alternate alcohol with water to stay hydrated and lessen the hangover
- Add a lime to your drink. Limes are highly alkalizing and also help with insulin sensitivity.
- Add a sparking mineral water to your drink to provide extra minerals. The carbonation also helps increase the absorption of alcohol, so that way you don't end up drinking as much
- Add natural sweeteners like stevia, all-natural carbonated waters, or coconut water to avoid refined sugars and the inevitable blood sugar dip
Tips on What Alcohol To Drink -
- Vodka derived from potatoes, tequila, and wood-aged spirits like whiskey, brandy, scotch or cognac are better for balancing blood sugar.
- A sparkling white wine or dry champagne like prosecco is lower in sugar. The drier the better, which means less sugar.
- Wine is high in resveratrol, which is proven to fight cancer, help lower blood pressure and promote good heart health, however, organic wines are better as grapes are highly treated with pesticides. Avoiding cheap wines will also certainly result in less of a hangover.
- Try to avoid the beers and mixed drinks with added sugar
- And of course if you're not a drinker, you could also check out Mark's Daily Apple for some Mocktails ;)
I hope you all found these tips helpful! What's most important above ALL else is to just be grateful and enjoy time with family! Always take time to appreciate the little things in life that we often take for granted.
If you have comments or questions feel free to post in comments section! Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Holiday's, Everyone! Stay tuned for my next holiday post closer to Christmas time.
In Abundant Health,
Ali Boone, RD, LD, NTP