For many people, this is their absolute favorite time of the year! They can’t wait for the food, the presents, the decorations and the get togethers. While for others, even though they want to happily embrace the holidays, the stress of making it all happen always seems to steal a little of their joy each and every year.
If you happen to be in the same boat, then today’s post is for you. It contains tips from a workshop I did just yesterday called How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season. During the class, I discussed how making simple changes can decrease stress and keep things in perspective and balanced, so you can sit back and actually celebrate the holidays with those you love the most.
Ready to encounter holiday JOY instead of feeling like, “The holidays…OY”? Then allow me to share the following tips to help change how you experience this blissful season:
* Eat real food (as often as you possibly can) and balance your snacks/meals:
- Remember the Great Grandma Rule
- Don’t eat protein or carbs alone!
- Here are some quick and easy meal and snack ideas to help keep things as balanced as possible during this busy holiday season!
* Fail to plan—plan to fail. You can use this handy meal planning worksheet to make preparing ahead of time failproof! This can be used any time of the year, but may be especially helpful when you’re trying to keep meal planning organized during the holidays or when you’re hosting get togethers.
Here’s a great example of planning ahead exhibited by my assistant, Kate. Instead of letting the holidays get the best of her, she decided to finally do something about it. Kate always hosts 12-15 people for Thanksgiving dinner. She used to sort of “wing” the whole process and whatever time she said dinner would be at, you typically needed to add an hour…at least. So this year, she decided the loosey goosey approach just wasn’t working anymore. It created too much stress, people got hangry (hey low blood sugar) and she decided she was going to conquer it one way or another.
How did she manage that, you ask? She delegated the turkey and one side dish to her father-in-law who lives nearby. The day before Thanksgiving, she chopped the vegetables she needed for the homemade stuffing she was planning to make. Then she created this index card that laid out the times of what she would do and when, including how long things needed to bake and at what temperature. And guess what? She said dinner would be ready at 3:30…and at 3:31, it was! Close enough :).
* Did you know that your perspective can change everything? Check out this link on First World Problems. It’s an amusing, yet effective way of keeping things in perspective. You can also watch this Ted Talk, which is a great reminder that simply changing how you think about stress really can make you healthier!
* Employ the 80/20 Rule! Try as you might, it may be next to impossible to eat clean 100% of the time. It’s actually somewhat unreasonable to put such expectations on yourself anyway, particularly in the midst of the holidays. So instead, how about opting for what I like to call the “80/20” Rule? Eat as well as you can 80% of the time and the other 20%, go ahead and live a little! This way, you can indulge in a few holiday treats here and there without letting things go totally haywire.
* Bring a “Real Food” Dish to Pass. No this isn’t from a recent invitation—it’s something you may want to do if you know you’re going to a get together that may be loaded down with tempting food. My blog is full of yummy recipes that are clean, easy to prepare and make for great party dishes. You can also enjoy parties by: Eating a little before you head out so you’re not starving and prone to making bad food decisions, employing the rule above and eating some of what you brought. In other words: A little thinking ahead goes a LONG ways!
Having said all of this, my hope for each and every one of you is to find balance amidst the busyness, experience JOY in the process and remember the reason for the season. Try setting aside some time each day to take a step back and appreciate all that you have. In a world that seems so uncertain these days, we have an abundance of blessings in this country many have only dreamed of. In addition to being thankful, don’t forget to remember why it is we’re celebrating while taking in all of the beauty this time of the year has to offer!
So enjoy the peace of this Christmas season and may it extend beyond these last few weeks of December and on into 2016!