This is the second article in our healthy holiday series for 2019. We've been searching the best tips and tricks of the trade, weaving in the science and presenting you with options to make 2019 your healthiest holiday yet.
Continue reading for our top 10 healthy holiday tips for 2019
1. Schedule in a daily mindfulness or meditation session.
There’s a lot of demand for time and attention during the holiday season and sometimes that can bubble over into stress. Prevent that stress and give yourself some self-care: we suggest 10 minutes in the morning, before the rest of the house gets up, for meditation, stretching, or deep breathing to help you choose your purpose and attitude for the day.
Tools we like: The Calm app’s daily meditation. 10 minutes in length and updated every day, it offers short sessions focused on centered breathing, mindfulness, and discusses relevant topics (think forgiveness, de-stressing, relationships, etc.). Short, easy and effective meditation all in one spot.
2 Keep it Colorful.
The best source of color in our diet is fruits and veggies! Including a rainbow on your plate means you’re getting lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber but low calories, fat and sugar. Fiber is helpful in filling you up without filling you out or causing the dreaded post-meal energy crash (although, feel free to take a snooze if you need it). We suggest planning out the side dishes with the same enthusiasm as the main protein usually gets. This means making the colorful options the stars. No need to struggle with fresh if you’re strapped for time, frozen or pre-chopped options are just as nutritious.
Recipes we like: there’s so many to choose from but we really like The Colorful Kitchen.
Too many options? What about this beautiful roasted squash stuffed with veggies and a maple tahini sauce
3. Plan Some Movement.
If you’re traveling and want to keep a consistent workout schedule over the holidays, consider trying a gym class in the city you’re visiting. Many smaller gyms offer a first-class free pass and some of the bigger box places, like LA Fitness, have week-long passes (although you may need to check if an out-of-state license will suffice). Another option is to check if your local gym has other locations – Planet Fitness, Snap Fitness, etc. have locations across the US and many will let you use another location with a small fee. A small investment for some dedicated quiet time away from the family.
Tools We Like: We like the Mindbody app for finding fitness and workout options across the US. They show special rates for same day bookings and can track your scheduled workouts. Many gyms let you schedule within the app, saving you time and frustration.
5. Mealtime Mindfulness Matters.
Mindfulness takes practice but mastering it at mealtime can help your body tune-in to your body's hunger and fullness signals. Sometimes, we are so distracted sharing stories with loved ones, that we don’t pay attention to what we are putting in our mouth. This means more bites than we planned and often, it’s not of the carrots.
Techniques We Like: Much like saying grace before a meal, encourage everyone at the table to take a moment, close their eyes and take a deep breath. Enjoy the delicious food aromas and the warmth of the room. As you exhale, encourage everyone to consider the nourishment they are about to enjoy and the family they get to share it with. It may feel funny at first, but collectively starting the meal with intention can keep everyone eating slowly and enjoying the food. Other techniques include chewing slowly and putting your utensils down after each bite and having a no-phone at the table policy.
6. Speaking of Technology….
Keep it positive by moderating or self-limiting your social media check ins this season. It can be tough to see only the polished, perfectly behaved pictures of everyone’s children when you are certain yours are trying to see how far they can push the limits go before you cancel the holidays. Remember that these are all manicured, sometimes photo-shopped, snapshots of moments in time. They don’t reflect what’s really going on and the comparison trap can leave you feeling underwhelmed this holiday season.
Tools We Like: The unfollow button on Facebook is one of our favorites to quiet people who get on our nerves. Also using the phone’s social media usage trackers or app usage feature can help you limit unproductive phone time. For Android, we like the built in Digital Wellbeing for Apple Users try the built in Screen Time function .
7. Make your favorite meals lighter.
There are so many easy swaps to reduce sugar, fat and salt in recipes that there’s really no reason not to! We recommend avoiding the vegan versions of things because vegan does not necessarily indicate a product is healthy. Using whole foods or minimally processed foods to replace fat, sugar or salt can keep it healthy and no one will be any the wiser. Reducing added sugar, fat and salt decreases inflammation and can also let the flavor of the foods shine through.
Resources We Like: This Egg Swaps guide by Forks Over Knives
Baking Substitutions Guide
Or skip the swaps and try a recipe from the Plant Based Cooking Show
8. Make Meatless the Main.
If you’re ready for a big change, consider making something lighter and more veg-centric as the centerpiece of the table this year. Enter the beautiful cauliflower steak and eggplant lasagna. There are also many meatless loaf options that are really delicious (thanks, Sweet Earth and Quorn) but if you’re feeling adventurous and want meals that will convert even the most staunch carnivore, we suggest trying two that we really love:
1. Eggplant Stacks I’ve made this eggplant stack recipe many times and it is a crowd pleaser. Creamy cashew ricotta with herby balsamic spinach stacked between layers of thin eggplant are perfect individual servings. With no added sugar or oil needed (use the veggie stock to omit the oil), they are so tasty.
2. Cauliflower Steak Crispy with panko breadcrumbs and a thick mushroom gravy, this is can make any one a cauliflower fan. We suggest using an air fryer or dry baking on parchment paper or a silicone mat to reduce the added oil but feel free to cook as is and enjoy in all it’s veggie glory.
9. Give the Gift of Experience.
There’s nothing like watching the kids freak out over a big pile of boxes left by Santa or cherish 8 gifts over Hanukkah. As adults, though, it starts to get hard to think of things for people who can – and do – buy what they need and want! We think shifting the season away from physical items and investing in experiences can be a great way to reduce waste and create excitement around something unique. Maybe a glass blowing session or pottery wheel membership fits in with your artsy brother in law. How about an aerial workout session for your sister? Winery and brewery tours are getting easier and easier with the increase in local brewers and small batch wineries. Even a planned dinner out with your grandparents is a gift…
Maybe sticking with traditional gifts is more your speed – we like that, too! I personally love getting warm socks and delicious candles every year. A good compromise to help build up experience without removing the individual gift rush can include a round of conversation starter questions like this pack from Table Topics – learn more about your relatives and spark some interesting conversation. We also like the party pack of games by Jackbox. We get the newest version almost every year! Everyone can play – all you need is a TV and each person needs a device like their phone or an iPad to participate. There’s nothing like an insightful night of questions or funny trivia over warm beverages by the fire.
10. Imbibe with Care.
If you drink alcohol, make sure to understand your limits and have a plan for eating before any drinks, and swap for water often. The more we drink, the easier it is to make loose decisions about our portions and options – never mind what we say! Besides, no one likes to wake up and wonder what they said in front of grandma last night.
Non-Alcoholic Options We Like: Curious Elixers and Seedlip are two of our favorite non-alcoholic, fancy drinks options but a La Croix or flavored soda water muddle with berries can be just as refreshing at half the cost.
If you're looking for more guided help this holiday season for your health goals, send us a note! We'd love to support you through this year and next. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org