How to Survive the Holiday Season – Here Are a Few Strategies to Help You Cope

Thanksgiving dirty dishesBy Sheila Royce Garcia –

Before you even know it, it’s that time of year again, the time to celebrate, enjoy the company of family and friends, caroling songs of Silent Night and Jingle Bells, and wishing everyone a happy and joyous season. Unfortunately, the joy-filled holiday season can sometimes turn into a full-on holiday frenzy, which can take a toll on your weight and overall health.

During the holidays, many people struggle with overeating, decreased energy levels, and stress. The three biggest challenges that most people face between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are weight gain due to the overabundance of rich, delicious foods at holiday gatherings, grabbing unhealthy foods while on the run, and, lastly, fatigue and stress from travel, parties, children’s performances, and Christmas shopping madness. Any one of these could be more than enough reason to cause stress and overeating, but, during the holidays, we have to deal with all three! Well, ladies and gents, I am here to tell you that YOU can survive the Holidays. By following the strategies that I am going to outline for you, you will reach the end of the holiday festivities feeling healthy, happy and energized.

How to Avoid Over Eating During the Holidays

In the face of so many delicious foods during the holiday season, many people overeat, indulging in rich, succulent foods. Luckily for you, I’m here to offer you a few tips to help prevent you from overeating during the holidays!

1 – Don’t skip breakfast! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Try to eat something within 30 minutes of waking up. Make your breakfast meal healthy by incorporating whole grains, protein, fruits and veggies. When it comes to fruits and vegetables eat the colors of the rainbow.

2 – Eat small meals every two to three hours to assist you in controlling portion sizes. This will help you to limit overeating. See what resonates with you.

3 – Stick to a healthy, low-glycemic snacks or meals, such as apples, pears, whole grains, beans, nuts, brown rice, eggs, or chicken, just to name a few. This may help you to keep your blood sugar levels stable and may stop you from craving unhealthy foods.

4 – Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep hydrated. By drinking water, you may feel full and may be less likely to eat unhealthy snacks that are loaded with sugar and salt or to overeat during mealtime.

5 – Make mindful choices when filling your plate with food. Start by putting plenty of vegetables on your plate and then see how much room is left. Go easy on the condiments, sauces, white pasta, potato or rice and other simple carbohydrates. Instead, eat those glorious vegetables you lovingly prepared, along with lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains; you may feel fuller longer.

6 – Stick to your regular healthy regimen during the rest of the holiday season. Many people begin their holiday eating habits days before the actual holiday; even though it’s that time of year doesn’t mean we have to eat unhealthily leading up to that special day or event. When the celebration or party is over, return to your healthy diet.

7 – Practice mindful eating. But what exactly is mindful eating? Take time to notice what is on your plate; the color, smell, flavor and texture. Eat with chop sticks or put your fork down after each bite. Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly – digestion begins in your mouth. Avoid distractions while you eat; turn the TV off, don’t read the newspaper, text messages, social media sites or email. The more you are aware of what you are eating, the less likely you will want to get up for seconds. Take this time to share funny stories or your days events with the people you love.

Foods that will give you Energy this Holiday Season

1 – Whole foods, such as, grains, vegetables, and beans. These foods are not processed and are in their complete form: vitamins, minerals, and fiber. When they go through the processing all of these components are removed.

2 – Superfoods are high in nutrients. Foods that fall into this category are leafy greens like kale, collards, chard, chia seeds, flax seeds to just name a few. If possible, it is best to concentrate on high quality foods.

Tips on How to Manage Holiday Stress

1 – Choose a couple social gatherings and activities to attend during this time of year. Try to prioritize your events to avoid procrastination, and, when you can, delegate tasks to others to free up more time for you.

2 – Physical exercise, the best time to schedule your workouts are in the morning if possible. You can start off by just doing 10 minutes and working yourself up to 20-30 minutes per day. If you are short on time you can do 15 minutes in the morning and then 15 minutes in the evening.

3 – Breathing exercises are great because it will impact your health and mood. It may even help you release some mental chatter.

4 – Try laughing, it is a great stress reliever. Surround yourself with positive people who like to laugh, read a funny story, reach for your daily newspaper comic strip and cartoon section, watch a funny show or movie. Comedy shows in your community are great to attend for a good laugh.

5 – Yoga classes are great for the mind, body and soul. Research classes in your community and attend a class that resonates with you.

6 – Practice self-care: spoil yourself by taking a bubble bath with drops of lavender essential oil, lit candles surrounding the tub and soft music in the background. Try a hotel towel scrub by stimulating the skin with a rubbing action. Treat yourself to a massage, manicure or pedicure. Self-care practice has a way of rejuvenating and relaxing your mind, body, and soul.

7 – Practice self-love: Take time out for you and love yourself by giving you hugs and kisses.

Avoiding Holiday Desert Temptations

Those sweet, gooey deserts may be calling your name during the holiday season, but they will wreak havoc on your diet. Here are a couple tips to help you avoid the temptation of these yummy holiday deserts.

1 – Have a sweet vegetable with your dinner to get that same sweetness without the calories. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash are all great options.

2 – Eat protein, like nuts or lean meat protein first, or a healthy fat, such as, avocado or almond butter and then see if you are hungry for that sweet.

3 – Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

4 – Bring a healthy fruit platter, bowl of trail mix, hummus dip with apples to a party to serve as a healthy snack. Be proud to share with family and friends what you like to eat.

5 – Often when we are at social gatherings it can be tempting to eat snacks and graze the buffet table. To avoid mindless munching, eat a healthy snack before attending that holiday party or step aside from the desert table and mingle with others instead of eating.

6 – Practice the 80/20 rule. I believe in and always tell my clients to practice eating healthy 80 percent of the time and 20 percent you can treat yourself. When you treat yourself, however, don’t go overboard. Enjoy yourself every so often, but don’t jeopardize your diet by eating too much sweetness.

Have a joyous holiday season, be merry, stay healthy, and be fit!

My name is Sheila and I am the founder of Sheila Fitness ~N~ Healthy Lifestyle. I am a Holistic Health Coach, Fitness Trainer and JNL Fusion Master Trainer. Please visit me on my website at http://www.SheilaFitnessNHealthyLifestyle.com to check out my services and get free recipes. Join my Facebook community at http://www.facebook.com/SheilaFitnessNHealthyLifestyle for free recipes, fitness and health tips, contests and promotions.

Disclaimer: Sheila Fitness ~N~ Healthy Lifestyle, LLC does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The contents of Sheila Fitness ~N~ Healthy Lifestyle, LLC article, such as text, graphics, images and other material contained on Sheila Fitness ~N~ Healthy Lifestyle, LLC (“content”) are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding medical condition. Sheila Fitness ~N~ Healthy Lifestyle, LLC is not acting in the capacity of a doctor, licensed dietician-nutritionist, psychologist or other licensed or registered professional.

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