Maintain Your Health Goals During the Holidays: 10 Essential Health Habits for WomenDec 23, 2023
'Tis the season of coziness and indulgences, a time when many women may find themselves grappling with overeating, weight gain, digestive issues, and PMS. As we navigate this transitional space before the new year, let's explore habits that can help you strike a balance during the holiday festivities without compromising your health goals.
Why health goals are harder to stick to during the holidays
Our culture often glorifies overindulgence at this time of year. If you’ve ever experienced the “itis” after a feast or the “ick” post-too-many-sweets, you know what I mean. Holiday festivities can make it easy to let health goals slip, leading to binge-eating treats we'd normally avoid.
Thankfully, there's a solution!
Instead of putting all that pressure on The Future You to work harder, why not integrate a few nourishing habits starting now?
Don't worry. This doesn't mean bidding farewell to sugar and turning down scrumptious baked goods and mulled wine—all while intensely watching others indulge. I encourage you to incorporate these 10 habits into your daily routine so your body and mind can handle all the sugary goodness to come.
10 daily habits to stay healthy during the holiday festivities
1. Start your day with hydration.
Begin each morning with a glass of warm water with lemon to kickstart your metabolism and aid digestion. Sip on water or herbal tea between meals and other tasty beverages throughout the day.
Remember: Water is vital for life on this planet. It supports nutrient transportation, waste circulation, and optimal digestive function. Staying hydrated is crucial for overall well-being and helps in making better food choices.
So how much water is enough?
How much water is enough? Aim for half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces per day. Adjust based on your activity level and health factors.
Example: A 150 lbs person would drink 75 oz of water per day.
2. Boozy boundaries.
Holiday cheer often involves boozy hot cocoa and sparkling wine. Be kind to your kidneys and liver. Offset each drink with a tall glass of water. Aim to reduce mixers and added sweeteners. Consider healthier alternatives from your local health food store.
Combined, these tips give your vital organs grace and hydration, supporting your long-term health and reducing hangover symptoms.
3. Front load whole foods.
Ensure you’ve consumed enough protein and fiber before indulging in sweets, caffeine, and booze.
Why? Fiber is the natural antidote to sugar, regulating blood sugar levels—a crucial hormone hack. Plant proteins, found in legumes, soy, seeds, and nuts, are abundant in whole foods. You might even like to start your day with a protein shake (I really love Four Sigmatic Vanilla Protein Powder).
Remember: Veggies improve insulin resistance and create an alkaline state in your body, making you less likely to binge.
Once you’ve loaded up with whole foods, enjoy your stocking chocolates, boozy beverages, and Aunt’s legendary vegan spinach artichoke dip.
4. SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS!
Feeling bloated or got a case of the itis? A shot of raw ACV (apple cider vinegar), fire cider, or ginger before a meal can boost your metabolism and keep you energized and regular.
No access to these? Herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, fennel, chamomile, dandelion, lemon balm, and licorice root are digestion-supporting alternatives.
5. Time and space.
Consider Intermittent Fasting (IF) but consult your healthcare practitioner first, especially if you have specific health conditions.
What happens to your body when you fast?
Why IF? It gives your digestive system a rest, allowing organs to recover and triggering autophagy—cell self-cleaning.
How to improve your digestion with Intermittent Fasting
A four-hour window between meals is a great start. Avoid grazing, and extend the break between your last and first meal (12 to 16 hours).
Breaking the fast
Best options are liquids (fresh-pressed juice, herbal tea, coconut water...etc) , watery fruits (not bananas), broth, fermented foods, and cooked veggies. These foods are juicy, fresh, and/or easy on your digestive system after so many hours without eating. Wait about an hour after breaking your fast before introducing more difficult-to-digest foods, or processed foods.
6. Stay active.
Keep it simple. A morning walk gets things moving, and a post-meal walk is lovely. Do it as a family to spend quality time away from screens.
7. Get enough sleep!
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, and take short 20 or 90 minute naps if a full night isn’t possible. Lack of sleep can affect digestion, weight, mood, and overall bodily functions.
8. Supplement effectively.
I will always be a food-first nutritionist, though in today’s world it’s so difficult to get everything we need from food alone. While prioritizing whole foods, effective supplementation is crucial in today's world. Soil depletion, environmental toxins, and nutrient-depleted foods make it necessary.
I taught a masterclass on this topic if you’re interested in diving deeper!
Please consult with your healthcare practitioner before adopting a new supplement regime. The following recommendations are relatively safe for most people, though your nutrition journey is personal to YOU and your unique needs.
9. Bring your own treats.
For all my dairy-free queens, the temptation of traditional sweets can be challenging. Be prepared. Research and buy plant-based alternatives or make tasty treats to share.
My fave holiday treat is this healthy vegan ferrero rocher recipe.
There are countless studies on the effects of mindfulness in relation to our health.
Before each meal, take a moment to express gratitude. Count your blessings, whether for people, situations, clean water, or good health. It positively impacts your mental state and digestion.
I love doing this at family gatherings or with friends. When we sit down to eat, I will ask everyone to go around in a circle and share one thing they are grateful for right now. Whatever you are grateful for, recognize it. Express it. Feel it.
Wishing you a season filled with balance, joy, and gratitude. Happy holidays!