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How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

December 1, 2019 by Ginger Hultin MS RDN

My December is packed, is yours? I’ve got a bit of travel, several friend and work-related holiday parties, Hanukkah parties, Christmas events, dinners with friends…and then there’s New Year’s Eve at the very end of it all. If you don’t want to wake up on the first – a new year, a new decade – feeling drained and wondering what happened to you this December, I’ve got the answers. You need my tips on how to have a healthy holiday season.

I was talking to a client the other night and she asked me “before I go, do you have any tips on how to navigate the holidays so that they’re not so exhausting?” and I told her my tips – that I want to share with you today – and she said, “that’s so perfect; thank you, I’m excited for the holidays this year”. And that’s what it’s all about to me. Finding a way to really enjoy each season of the year, and of our lives, so that our health is a priority and we have that balance that we’re all looking for. It can be done! My tips on How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season are below. I hope they support you this month!

How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

1. Make your health the priority

I know that there are a million things to get done. Planning holiday cards, baking, prepping for yet another friendsgiving, and gift shopping are all high on my list of to-do’s right now in addition to what I’ve usually got going. It’s so easy to let your workouts fall to the wayside, to drink alcohol every single night and to eat (a lot of) cookies, peppermint bark or fudge just because it’s sitting around in front of you. All foods definitely fit into the holiday season but it’s important to feel grounded in the fact that you’re being mindful and intuitive about your eating and the way you’re caring for your body.

It’s important to put yourself first, even when that feels really hard. It becomes more important than ever when you’re really busy to schedule in those workouts. Grab a massage or facial. Grocery shop. Go to yoga. Make time for dinner with a friend or family member. Make your health the priority this season…it’s like putting on your face mask first if you need to in a flight emergency. Help yourself before assisting others.

2. Eat what you Love

Eating what you love doesn’t mean bingeing on candy the entire holiday season. Think about what foods you really love. Foods that make you feel good. Some of these are likely treats like holiday baked goods and sweets. Some are likely holiday cheeses and dips. And others perhaps are seasonal ‘healthy’ foods like fruits and veggies or other holiday favorites: tangerines, pomegranates, cranberries, persimmons, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash. Eat what you love and focus on what tastes and feels good in the moment. It is important to allow yourself, guilt-free, to enjoy all that the holidays have to offer in regards to food and traditional treats. This is a great time to reflect on what you truly enjoy and can get only at this special time of year.

Remember, if you need support with how to find this balance and what it means to you, let’s chat.

3. Sleep!

Many people walk around a bit sleep deprived all the time. This is so hard if you have circumstances like children, elderly pets or work jobs that require shift work or night work. However, many people who don’t have extenuating circumstances still don’t get enough sleep and it’s often related to screen time, racing thoughts or too much caffeine or alcohol in the afternoon or evening. Making sleep a priority could be a wonderful resolution to make in the New Year but why start then? These dark months are perfect for a little hibernation so set yourself up for success. Cut back on television or phone use at night. Set goals for when you want to be in bed by. Get some new, cozy sheets and make your bedroom a place of solace and comfort. That could mean clearing clutter, adjusting lighting or getting a white noise machine. How can you improve your sleep this week?

4. Watch the alcohol intake

Mmmm the holidays are a wonderful time for red wine and champagne…and cocktails and punch. I’m bringing all of them to the parties I’m attending and I absolutely love a festive drink around the holidays. However, the guidelines are clear that it’s safest to limit your intake to one drink per day for women and two for men. We may go over that amount now and then – especially during the holidays but keep in mind that over-imbibing has consequences. Many of my clients notice weight gain with too much alcohol and it can interrupt sleep and negatively influence your mood.

My tips for watching the alcohol intake include, eating WITH alcohol (always). Sipping water between alcoholic beverages and sometimes skipping alcohol altogether in favor of a sparkling water with a beautiful garnish. Never drink and drive around the holidays (or ever) so you can enjoy the season safely.

If you do want to imbibe (I do, too), try some cocktails that are a little lighter yet still delicious. My simple eggnog cocktail and my apple cider wine spritzer are examples of lower alcohol festive drinks perfect for a party.

5. Work Out

It’s important to be active in the winter months but for so many people, especially those of us living in cold climates, it gets pushed aside. I hear a lot of excuses (good ones!) about how it’s so dark here. It’s challenging to get out in the cold rain when it’s dark at 4pm here in Seattle. I’m in the same boat. If your commitment is strong, you can work through these barriers. Maybe it’s using the gym at work. Maybe it’s joining a fitness class at your local gym. Maybe it’s getting a neighbor or friend involved for accountability to get you out there in the dark, rain no matter what. Because physical activity is way too important to let go for several months during the winter.
I like to play a game with my clients sometimes. We think of a barrier and then we think of all the work-arounds. What can you do to overcome your barriers today? And if you just need an indoor workout, I’m writing them for people right and left. Here’s one on the blog from an intern I had recently that everyone loves!

6. Take Breaks

I took two breaks today. This is big news for me because I get very sucked into my work. And it’s super cold and rainy outside right now. However, my intern and I headed out to the grocery store at noon and then we took a walk around the block in the afternoon. Honestly, every time we come back, we set goals for productivity and we both felt so much more refreshed. Taking a break could be calling your partner or child, it could be grabbing a cup of tea, doing a breathing app for 5 minutes, or just closing your eyes. Whatever it means to you, I do suggest taking a break this season to enjoy your life and this special time of year. Of all the recommendations here, taking a break every day is probably one of the most critical items for How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season that can make a real difference in your life.
You can have a healthy holiday – you really can. Don’t wait for the New Year. I’m healthy holiday articles all month long on my Facebook, on my Twitter, and of course, on Champagne Nutrition so I hope you’ll get the chance to stop by and join me in part of the conversation.
 If you want more updates from me at Champagne Nutrition that include my monthly themes, make sure to join my non-spammy mailing list.

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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

Integrative nutrition specialist helping clients navigate complex health conditions to reduce inflammation and feel better.

Thanks for visiting! If you're struggling with a cancer diagnosis, autoimmune condition, gut health problems, or even a medical mystery, nutrition can make a HUGE difference in your day-to-day life. I run a virtual, concierge private practice where I partner with my clients over time to help them improve their health through nutrition. Be sure to visit the blog for easy, plant-based, anti-inflammatory recipes and our "Resources" page for a variety of self-paced programs, books, e-books, and nutrition podcast episodes.

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