Staying mindful of health and nutrition during the holiday season, spanning from October through the end of December, can sometimes be challenging. Chocolates, baked goods, alcoholic beverages, decadent brunch and breakfast spreads, as well as richer sides and proteins are in abundance and often easy to overindulge in. Veggies, fruits, and whole grains often take a backseat during the holidays, making it harder to get those nutrient-dense foods into our bodies. There is also the busyness of the season with holiday parties, decorating, and gift-giving, which adds additional stress to our lives.
Luckily, we have some tips for you to help you stay mindful this holiday season and none of them require calorie counting, macro counting, or eliminating foods or food groups. In fact, we support you in enjoying your favorite holiday treats and meals, while at the same time encouraging a mindful approach to meals, snacks, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Check out our favorite tips to help you stay mindful this holiday season and beyond.
1. Maintain a Regular Sleep and Eating Schedule
No way of eating can outdo the power of a healthy sleep schedule, so make it a priority now more than ever. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. There is also a connection between a healthy circadian rhythm or clock, our internal hunger cues, and hunger and stress hormones. This is called the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, and when that balance is off, it may lead to an increase in stress, hunger, and an unhealthy eating pattern. Our bodies use sleep to reset our minds and naturally detoxify our organs each night, which is vital to our overall health. So while you might be prone to burning the candle at both ends, that is the very last thing you’ll want to do in order to feel your best. Some tips to help you sleep better include using an eye mask, dark curtains, and/or special light devices that can help you sleep more soundly all night long. Enjoying balanced meals in the evenings and including fermented foods in your diet for microbiome health, as well as avoiding late-night alcohol sessions and overeating food treats in the evening hours can also help you achieve a more regular eating and sleeping pattern.
2. Aim for the Five-A-Day Goal
The idea here is to get plenty of what you need during the times your body needs it the most. Instead of trying to stick to a diet or just “trying” to eat more produce this season, have a five-a-day goal of eating fruits and vegetables, with at least two of those servings being vegetables each day. This will feed your body with a healthy mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and important antioxidants throughout the day to help you feel your best. Many of them also contain prebiotics, a specific type of fermentable fiber that feeds the good bacteria in our guts. Fruits and vegetables also support immunity with ample amounts of nutrition. Add them to each meal and snack whenever you get a chance and find fun ways to use them that are quick and simple. Think of it as a game all holiday season long, but not a hard rule you have to follow. You’ll naturally crowd out more cravings for the unhealthier options since your body will be getting more nutrient-dense produce.
3. Add Two Servings of Fermented Foods to Your Daily Meals and Snacks
Fermented foods, such as Lifeway Kefir, Farmer Cheese, and Lifeway Oat, contain billions of probiotics per serving to help keep your gut microbiome healthy over the holiday season. Research shows that a healthy microbiome may even influence and change the types of foods our bodies crave. Other research suggests that consuming fermented foods, such as Lifeway Kefir, may support a healthier mood and decrease symptoms of depression. Lifeway Kefir’s unique combination of probiotics, complete protein, and healthy fats stabilizes blood sugar levels and help keep you satiated. Aim to add two servings of fermented foods to your daily meals and snacks as a simple way to get started. You’ll not only feel better, but may crave less of the sweet, rich stuff and more of the good stuff your body needs: healthy proteins, cultured/fermented foods, vegetables, healthy complex carbohydrates, refreshing fruits, and healthy fats. Check out some of our latest recipes if you need some new ideas. We love this Savory French Toast, Karma Kefir Smoothie, Pumpkin Blended Oats, and Roasted Pumpkin Bowl with Kefir, just to name a handful of the latest options we created for you to enjoy!
4. Be Choosy With Treats and Never Arrive Hungry
This one tip will help you resist the urge to overdo it on party sweets, alcohol, or appetizers before ever having a real meal. Be sure to eat something at least a couple of hours before you arrive. This will give your body plenty of time to digest the food and will help you avoid overeating sweets and rich treats once you arrive to your holiday events. Aim to have something nourishing with a balance of protein, healthy fats, and fiber that includes produce. Try a small smoothie with Lifeway Kefir made with a cup of frozen berries, a handful of greens, and some flax or chia seed meal. Or enjoy a couple tablespoons of Lifeway Farmer Cheese with whole grain crackers, veggies, and some fruit. These are just two ideas to get you started and won’t leave you feeling stuffed before you head to the events you have planned this season. Once you arrive, make sure to choose your treats wisely once you get there. Choose one (or two) desserts to sample and one or two appetizers instead of having all of them. You’ll likely enjoy them more, and remember, you’re not missing out if you don’t have every single one. Choose to be mindful of the company you’re with and take time to enjoy being with others instead of just looking forward to all the food.
5. Get in Some Source of Movement Every Single Day That YOU Enjoy
A newer concept called Mind Body Stress Reduction (MBSR) relates to incorporating the mind and body into various movement techniques and activities that help you engage your mind and body as one. Instead of thinking of exercise as a way to burn calories or stay fit, think about ways to add movement to your day that engages your mind and body as a way to stay present, reflect, and take time for yourself. Activities such as meditative yoga not only engages your muscles but also helps you relax simultaneously. Research suggests that yoga may even support the immune system. Other ideas include a long walk outside in nature, or a simple home routine that incorporates sessions of meditative stretching to engage your muscles, give your heart a gentle workout, and help you stay present and relaxed. The main idea is to find simple ways to move your body every single day to help reduce stress over the holiday season (and beyond).
For inspiring recipes to help you feel your best and other great tips, check out all our recipes and our recent blog posts. We can’t wait to share more with you this holiday season and support you in your health and lifestyle goals as we end yet another year and embrace a new one ahead. Join us on Instagram as part of our community, where we share new content every single week to help you #LoveYourGuts a little more each day.