The tree is up, the lights are lit and the gift giving has begun. We had our first Christmas gathering this past weekend and it was so great to be together once again with extended family. And with that, the festivities are on a roll!

While I love Christmas and all that it brings, I try to keep things in check. In years past, it has felt like Christmas has been more of a high stakes marathon than a time to connect & reflect. Silent Night was just a lofty idea and I did my best to keep up with the hustle and bustle. In the last couple of years, I’ve tried to incorporate a quieter and gentler approach to Christmas. Below are my 12 Days of Healthy Christmas. I know, I know, it isn’t even December yet! I hear you! I would suggest if you can enter into December with this mind set, you will be prepared for whatever holiday snowballs come your way!

 

12 Days of Healthy Christmas

  1. Slow your pace. Decide on what really matters and focus on that. Politely say no to the invitations that add stress to your life.
  2. When going to a party eat something healthy and drink a big glass of water before leaving home. That way, you won’t be ravenous when you get there and end up eating five too many cream puffs!
  3. If you are going to a party, keep the alcohol consumption in check and drink plenty of water. Alcohol dehydrates and increases your need for hydration. For every ‘festive’ bevvie, drink a glass of water. Remember to enjoy responsibly and have a designated driver lined up ahead of time.
  4. While at a party, scan the food table for items that look the closest to real food – think veggie and fruit platters. Make the majority of your plate those things, leaving room for only a few hor d’oeuvres.  Little innocent looking hor d’oeuvres can pack quite the calorie and trans fat punch!
  5. Be the one who brings the super awesome looking healthy food to the party. Try fruit kabobs or veggies in a small cup or my life of the party hummus dip.
  6. Don’t forget to take the time to exercise during this busy season. Even a 20 minute brisk walk on your lunch break will do for the time being.  Your body wants you to keep moving.
  7. Skimping on sleep will help no one. Making sleep a priority will help you and the people who spend time with you. The reality is that we are just far more pleasant to be around when we are well rested. We are less likely to forget things, speak more kindly to others and make healthy choices around food and exercise. You can thank me later.
  8. Make memories with your family. Many of our holiday traditions revolve around food. Try something new like an outdoor activity that involves the whole family – perhaps a snowman making contest, tobogganing on Christmas Eve or an extended family wide game of hide and seek after the big feast.
  9. Share with others. Purchase items for the food bank as a family. Look for healthier options to share such as whole grain pasta and tomato sauce, natural peanut butter and whole grain crackers.
  10. Lots of fruit and veggies – aim for at least 8 to 10 servings daily!
  11. Don’t sweat the small stuff! We often add far too much to our to do list.  Kick back with the family and watch or read that Christmas classic. We watched the Christmas Chronicles on Netflix. It was a little cheesy as to be expected, but a fun family time. Other family time classics – Elf, The Toy Who Saved Christmas – Veggie Tales run deep in this family, Miracle on 34th Street.
  12. Enjoy all things in moderation. Food and guilt don’t belong together. You want that super mocha frappa-lappa with whipped cream? What about the mashed potatoes with cream cheese and bread crumbs? Go for it and enjoy every last drop and morsel! While I am not suggesting that you completely through caution to the wind for the entire holiday season, you are wise enough to know when enough is enough and move on to the veggie platter. Trust yourself! Completely avoiding your favourite foods often leads to obsessing about it anyways. Be aware of serving size & enjoy.

 

While it does seem a little early to officially wish you a Merry Christmas, I do want to wish you a wonderful season of connecting & reflecting. For our family, Christmas is a time of gift giving and good food, but more importantly it is remembering the gift that a sweet babe brought to the earth so many years ago. It is in that spirit of love that I wish you the joy of the season. For those struggling with this time of year, you are not alone. Christmas time can be hard for so many reasons – broken relationships, loss of loved ones, financial restraints and overwhelming expectations. Please know that you are loved & valued and while it might seem funny to hear this on a nutritionists blog, it is coming from the heart…