We’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. Although some holidays like Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are behind us, we still have many on the horizon like Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the New Year. And guess what? I’m going to present you with some unpopular “staying healthy during the holiday” advice. In a wellness world clouded with “swaps” or “restrictions”, “don’ts” and “can’t”, I’m here to tell you to ignore that advice. Let us not worry about perfectionism, but rather honor presence. 

Being healthy during the holidays doesn’t necessarily mean swapping your mashed potatoes for cauliflower mash. It doesn’t mean skipping breakfast and lunch so you can have room for your 3pm dinner. It doesn’t mean overexercising to compensate for the second (okay, third) slice of pie. In fact, being healthy during the holiday rarely has anything to do with food at all! 

Maintaining your health in ways that don’t include food can include: 

  • Connecting with your loved ones: when was the last time you picked up the phone to call a friend? How about writing a letter? Or sending an email? Maybe it’s not about connecting with people you haven’t talked to in some time, but about being more inquisitive with those you’re around constantly. 
  • Staying present: Put down your phone. Turn off the TV. Close your laptop. Ask questions. Play games. Listen to each other.
  • Getting movement: This doesn’t have to be CrossFit. This doesn’t have to be intentional exercise. Movement can come in many forms. Who remembers Dance Dance Revolution? Or, what about a game of hide and seek? Channel your inner kid, I know it’s in there. 
  • Staying hydrated: This time of year it can be HARD. We’re not sweating as much. It’s not hot. So we don’t “feel” thirsty. However, just because the weather has changed, your water intake has not. In general, you should have about half your weight in ounces of water. Try to start your day and every meal with water. 
  • Managing your stress: Let’s face it, having a full (or empty) house can be stressful. Cooking all (or none of) the food can be stressful. Being in a politically (or religiously) divisive home can be stressful. Dealing with multiple (or no) personalities can be stressful. Stress is around us every day. It comes in the shape of people, pets, weather, jobs, and takes many forms. However, finding your stress outlets can help you stay on top. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s journaling. Maybe it’s phoning a friend. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you can easily do preferably not food/drink related. 
  • Getting outside: Vitamin D is the happy vitamin for a reason. Fresh air can also do so much for your endorphins. Simply standing outside and taking deep breaths might be a great way to manage stress! 
  • Strengthening your mind: Challenge yourself. Learn something new. Create something. Make art. Work on a puzzle. Build something. Again, inner kid, let it shine! 
  • Practicing self-compassion: You are human and nobody is perfect. Appreciate yourself and all that you are capable of. Progress not perfection.

However, these factors can act as pillars in helping us create positive relationships with ourselves and food choices. We often wait until the new year to work on building these pillars. But why not start now with a strong foundation now? Consider reaching out to a nutrition coach to learn how you can dig up that foundation and towards your deep health. 

Most importantly, have a happy holiday season filled with love and joy.