The holiday season is arguably the “most fattening time of the year.” With turkey and ham feasts, peppermint treats, and pie galore it becomes difficult to stick to your healthy habits. Holiday treats and desserts can be very tempting, but that doesn’t mean we should lose sight of our health goals.
Everyone deserves to live with the best health, but it’s not always easy. Keeping to your healthy habits is key, even during holidays. Whether your goal is to lose weight or improve digestion, staying on a healthy track during the holidays helps you to achieve your goal smoothly.
Why Being Healthy Is Harder During The Holidays
According to Healthline, overeating is one of many unhealthy holiday habits. From the stigma this time of year to our cultural traditions, we are more likely to eat too much of the holiday treats we are fond of. Because of this, it’s easier to fall off of our health goals.
Most of us are raised with food as a celebrational element. It’s a common occurrence for friends and family to come together and partake in snacks, treats, and meals; in some cases, social events are planned around the food. Because of this food celebration tradition, our holiday mindsets are usually food-focused.
On top of that, sugar is considered an addictive substance. Desserts are almost like a gateway drug in some ways; one bite and you’re hooked. If you struggle with sugar, you are not alone because it’s one of the hardest things to quit. This is why overeating is common during the holidays as you’re surrounded by mountains of sugary treats. It’s all too easy to go back for another cupcake or put multiple desserts on your plate.
Can I Still Have Holiday Treats?
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in desserts every now and then as long as you have moderation. A cookie here and there is okay, but that doesn’t mean you should have fifty.
When it comes to eating the treats that are plentiful during the holiday season, it’s always good to listen to your body. Your body knows how much it can handle, even if you don’t necessarily do. Paying attention to the signs your body tells you helps to not overeat as your body will send messages to your brain when it can’t take any more unhealthy foods.
For example, after a sugar cleanse or an anti-sugar diet people will begin to experience some sort of sickness (such as a stomach ache) once they start eating sugary treats again. After avoiding foods with high sugar contents for some time, your body has a weakened tolerance to desserts. But this response can aid you in your health goals because once this happens, people no longer feel like desserts are a temptation.
Additionally, it’s important to remember things like portion control when attending holiday events so you can still enjoy treats without falling off the wagon. Keeping to healthy strategies will let you eat the things you want while staying on the track that will lead to you accomplishing your health goals. It’s not worth it to not feel good the next day.
Strategies To Keep Your Health Goals
1. Shift Your Mindset
Our minds are extremely powerful, especially when it comes to our health. Staying healthy begins with how we think about our health. It could be as simple as reminding yourself of your health goals and why you want to be healthier.
The mindset we have during the holidays determines how successfully we can keep to our health goals. A good start to overcoming unhealthy holiday habits is to shift your thinking. Rather than focusing on the food, pay attention to your loved ones that surround you. The holidays are about the people, not the food.
A healthy mentality is a foundation for keeping healthy habits. Keeping a positive attitude, even when you mess up is important so you don’t fall even deeper into unhealthy patterns. It’s okay if you slip up, so don’t beat yourself if you goof up.
It’s important to get away from perfectionism when keeping your health goals. To avoid overeating during the holidays, it’s best to not think like “if I have one, I might as well have all of them.” One dessert will not set you back too far, and if you’re determined enough it won’t be that difficult to get back on a healthy track.
2. Plan Ahead
All the desserts and treats that come with the holidays can be very tempting, especially if they are right in front of you in a room full of delicious scents. Thinking ahead of time and coming in with a healthy game plan will assist you in keeping your health goals. It’s important to remember to not give up what you really want (to be healthy) for what looks good at the moment.
Going into a holiday event prepared with a healthy mindset makes staying healthy that much easier. Your game plan can consist of a treat limit, like saying you’ll only have one cookie. Or you can give yourself rules to stick to like only allowing yourself half a slice of pie.
No matter what your health goals are, thinking about them ahead of time can prevent any self-destruction. After over-indulging, most people slip into a depression; they become regretful or feel guilty about the food they ate. These unhealthy thoughts can be avoided by coming up with a game plan beforehand.
Thinking about where you are now and where you want to be (remembering your health goals) is a step in the right direction to strategize on how to stay healthy while still enjoying the holidays.
3. Bring Healthy Substitutes
If you are on a strict diet or health regimen, it can be disappointing to attend holiday affairs and not be allowed to eat the food. Whether it’s fear of sticking out or the temptation is just too strong, people often go off of their diets (even if only temporarily) to have some holiday treats.
However, if there is another and healthier option the unhealthy treats can easily be avoided. By bringing a healthy substitute, you can still enjoy holiday eating while also sticking to your health goals. For example, there are plenty of healthy dessert substitutes from low-fat options to natural sweeteners. There are a lot of good things out there as long as you’re looking for them.
Making desserts at home can also decrease unhealthy elements. Doing little tricks like using a different type of flour or replacing sugar with applesauce can go a long way for taking something delicious and making it just as enjoyable but healthy too.
The great thing about bringing healthy substitutes to holiday events is the opportunity to help others stay healthy. Many people follow by example, which means if you stick to your healthy foods others will be inspired to do the same.
Dr. Kirk Wersland attested to this when he shared a story about how a healthy habit of one person influences others to be healthy. “At a party, all the healthy snacks and treats were gone first,” he said. “Only the over-sugary, unhealthy foods were left over.”
The people around you will adapt to your health choices, like positive peer pressure. By sticking to your health goals, you can lead by example to help others get on a healthy track. Also, healthy substitutes for desserts, treats, and snacks are more tasty than people realize. This means you and others can enjoy indulging in goods and keep to your health goals at the same time.
4. Don’t Go To An Event Starving
A good strategy to use to help you stay on track is to eat before you go to an event. Attending holiday festivities hungry can be a recipe for disaster as you are more prone to overeat unhealthy foods. Eating a light meal before you go can help you manage what you eat and how much because your body will tell you you’re full.
If you are not ravishingly hungry when you go to an event, it’s that much easier to refrain from overindulging the unhealthy foods. You can eat enough to not feel too hungry but have just enough room for a little treat. That way, once you’ve had your treat limit, your body is telling you to be done.
5. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Rest is key for keeping healthy, in more ways than you may realize. Not only does a lack of sleep affect our physical and mental health, but without a good night’s sleep your body may not be able to stop you from overeating.
Did you know when you’re sleepy there’s a great potential for you to eat more? You may have noticed that when you’re tired you feel hungry. This is because your body is unable to recognize when it’s full without getting a good amount of rest.
You have hormones in your gut whose whole job is to send messages to your brain to tell you when your stomach is full. However, these hormones do not activate if you’re tired. To prevent yourself from feeling a false sense of hunger, it’s always a good idea to get plenty of rest before an event.
6. Stay Accountable
Dieting with a group or partner can make the difference between staying healthy and falling off the wagon. It’s ten times easier to accomplish something when you are not going at it alone. Having someone with you to keep you accountable for your health goals makes success that much easier.
When the temptation gets too strong, a friend can help remind you of your goals. Your accountability partner acts like your shoulder angel while you participate in activities. When working together, avoiding all the desserts and candy doesn’t seem so hard.
In addition, the accountability strategy also encourages your partner to stay healthy too! Your health choices can lead to a chain reaction, inspiring people to live just as healthy as you are. As stated before, keeping healthy choices influences others to do the same.
Our health coach, Cori Behrends, experienced this first-hand as she’s seen her kids follow her own health choices. “Since I stopped eating sugar, my kids have stopped eating sugar,” she said. “I still buy it, it’s in the pantry to give my kids a treat, but they don’t really eat it anymore.”
Staying healthy is significantly harder when you are alone. Everyone needs a support system, even if it’s just for one night. When you have an accountability partner, you have friends to support you in your choice to keep your health goals.
7. Communicate With Others
Peer pressure can make a great impact when it comes to keeping our health goals. One of the reasons why someone slips away from being healthy is due to suggestion. For example, if you are at a party you may find a few people encouraging you to have cake or cookies.
It may be scary to open up with others about your health goals, but it doesn’t have to be that way. People will respect your healthy choices and more often than not, you will find support and not be ridiculed for your choices.
Think of it this way, if you put yourself in your friends’ shoes how would you react? Wouldn’t you want to support your friend in their health goals? By communicating your health goals with friends and family, you will quickly find support and respect that will aid you in abiding by your health rules.
Additionally, by sticking to your health goals you lead a good example that people will admire or be inspired by. As stated before, your healthy choices can influence others to remain healthy during the holidays.
The holiday season is arguably the hardest time of the year to stay healthy, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your health. You can still have the treats you enjoy and keep to your health goals if you stick to your health strategies.
From creating a game plan to communicating with others, the holiday season doesn’t have to be the unhealthiest time of the year. This time of year is often food-focused, which makes unhealthy temptations that much stronger. However, that can easily be avoided because the people you surround yourself with make the holidays just as enjoyable.
Even if you fall off the wagon every now and then, you don’t have to beat yourself up because the track to staying healthy is not gone forever. You always have a chance to get back on the pathway to being healthy.
Need further assistance keeping to your health goals? Our health coaching program helps you get support and motivation to make the life changes needed for you to succeed in your health goals, even if you don’t know what they are just yet. Reserve your appointment today and get started on accomplishing your health goals!