There are lots of food related blogs, magazine articles and newsletters out there to help make your holiday meals healthier. However, it’s not just your meals that could use a helping hand during the holidays. It’s the time to be mindful of your wellbeing, too.
I always feel that there are way more tasks on my to-do list than there are days between Halloween and New Year’s Day. If I let myself, I can get really stressed out, so I thought I’d share a few strategies that I use to help make the holidays a little bit healthier, a little less hectic and a lot more enjoyable.
Don’t just focus on the big holiday meal. There are a lot more “regular” days in a month than there are holidays and you need to eat on those days too. That means you have lots of opportunities to make healthy choices for those non-holiday meals. Try and get a routine down that’s simple and easy to stick to. For example, on “normal” days I have oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, leftovers from the night before for lunch and a simple one-pot meal with a nice salad for dinner. My CSA farm share tends to dictate what’s on the menu — ah, one less decision to make! If you’re not in to cooking or just don’t have the time, check out the amazing selection of Health Starts Here® items in your local Whole Foods Market®’s prepared foods department.
Celebrate around activities, not just food. It seems that activity and exercise are the first things to get tossed when our schedules get busy. Why not celebrate with friends and family by participating in some fun outdoor winter activities instead of just cocktails and hors d’oeuvres? Depending on your local climate you could go for a walk, meet in the park and play football or Frisbee, go ice skating, hit the slopes for a weekend or even organize an outdoor cleanup to bond over doing good for your neighborhood. Just fifteen to thirty minutes of activity are really helpful in giving yourself a break and improve your mood. What are some local outdoor activities in your area?
Make over your schedule. You really don’t have to say yes to every single party, cocktail hour or pub crawl you’re invited to this holiday season. We all know that everyone is really busy. Your friends will still be your friends even if you just want to stay home and watch a movie in your pjs. If several mutual friends will all be throwing parties think about joining forces for one mega party. By doing so you can pool your resources as well as lightening the schedule of events — think one night instead of four different nights.
Cook and swap. Have you given yourself an ambitious cooking goal this year? Are you regretting that decision now? Do you have friends that like to bake and cook? Try a cookie swap. Each person bakes a big batch of their special cookie and on one night you get together and share cookies with others. Taking home a big variety when you just baked one batch is super fun and a lot less stressful than making a dozen kinds of cookies on your own. For inspiration, take a look at these gorgeous cookies. This concept also works with full meals. I did this with some friends a while back and came out with eight meals for two people and some amazing recipes to boot! Make sure you discuss guidelines before cooking to address food allergies and dietary concerns.
Host a Holiday Potluck. Want to throw a dinner party but is the menu daunting? What about a potluck holiday party. Come up with a theme and have your friends create dishes that will go together. Give specific assignments to folks, but also allow for creativity for your foodie friends. I find it fun to pick an awesome entrée and work the menu around that. Vegetarian Paella party? Have friends bring small bites for appetizers and put someone in charge of sangria and fresh cut fruit for dessert. Your party can come together in no time.
See, you can have a good time during the holidays and while keeping your health a priority. It’s better for you and better for everyone around you.
What do you do to keep yourself healthy and keep your stress levels down so you can enjoy the holiday season?