‘Tis the season! The holidays are in full swing, so are you ready to celebrate a month of joy, giving, and celebration—without getting buried alive by ALL the holiday stress, food, and the resulting weight gain first?
I’ve got you, girl.
Because if you’re anything like me, you’re committed to keeping your family healthy, especially during the holidays.
And let’s be honest…
This is the hardest time of the year to maintain healthy habits.
You may already be feeling drained by holiday challenges and obligations. And as amazing as the holiday season is, we often can feel triggered by conversations, grief, overwhelming schedules, and endless to-do lists.
I feel like every year, recovering from the holidays can seem impossible once we reach the New Year!
So in this blog, I want to focus on the holiday stress and eating hacks that will set you up for success and ensure you have a QUICK and EASY road to recovery come January.
These hacks have helped me make it through countless holiday seasons.
And the best part?
Once the holidays are over, you can keep your momentum going full throttle with my 14-day detox program—which gives your brain and body the total reset it needs to start 2024.
With that out of the way…
Let’s talk about holiday stress and eating hacks you can do now to set yourself up for success this new year!
My Top 20 Holiday Stress and Eating Hacks
I’ll start with 10 of my top holiday eating hacks, then follow up with my 10 holiday stress-relieving tips that will carry you through this season with confidence and joy.
These hacks 100% work. 🙂
#1- Set Yourself Up for Success
Set a personal goal or intention for this holiday season.
It could be to maintain your current weight.
Or to go for a walk every day.
Or to eat a salad before dinner.
Honestly, anything that feels good to you.
Choose something that moves you closer to feeling great and maintaining where you are through the busy holiday season.
When I create an intention for the holidays and my health, I grab my daily self-care journal and physically write out my intention every morning so it stays top of mind.
#2- Move Your Body, Especially After Meals!
Walking after meals relieves holiday stress, lowers your blood sugar, boosts your metabolic health, and prevents weight gain.
A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating AND weight gain.
Try 10- or 20-minute brisk walks twice a day.
I also love 15-20 minute Tabata exercises when traveling, 15-20 minutes of weight-lifting at home, or even a quick yoga routine to help in particularly emotional moments.
Walks always reset my hunger and help remove any lingering stress I may be feeling towards the end of the day.
#3- Eat Healthy Snacks BEFORE Holiday Festivities
This one I do all of the time.
Before you go to a party or holiday event, eat a light snack like raw vegetables, some protein, or almonds to curb your appetite.
This way, you’ll be less tempted to over-indulge at food-filled gatherings.
Plus, healthier snacks will help stabilize your blood sugar.
#4- Take a Lap to Look at ALL The Food Options First!
Once you arrive at an event, survey all the food available at the party buffets before you start indulging.
Choose your favorite foods and skip the rest.
Include vegetables and protein to keep your plate balanced. You can even build a veggie plate first to boost your fiber intake– and then go back for other items.
When I do this, I feel fuller from the veggies, and the increased fiber slows down my digestion.
#5- Eat More Mindfully
Before you eat this holiday season, take 3 to 5 deep belly breaths.
Really savor each bite and set your fork down between bites.
Your leptin levels take a minute to register when you’re full, so you can easily overeat when you eat too fast.
The goal is to eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating smaller portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy!
#6- Choose Drinks with Caution
Be mindful of all the beverages you drink. The holidays bring about lots of holiday treats– from seasonal coffee drinks to festive alcoholic cocktails.
Alcohol can lessen your inhibitions and cause you to overindulge and overeat.
And even sugary seasonal drinks or non-alcoholic mocktails can be full of calories and sugar.
I like to choose sparkling water with a squeeze of lime and pomegranate seeds, to give it a little holiday sparkle.
#7- Take The Holiday Focus Off Food
Change activities like holiday cookie-making time to non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations, or building a gingerbread house.
We love to do holiday family hikes, crafts, or play family games together.
Plan group activities that aren’t all about food.
The holidays are more about who you enjoy them with, right?
#8- Bring Your Own Healthy Dish
This is something I’ve been doing for years!
When you offer to bring your own healthy salad, side dish, or entree, you’ll know there’s a healthier option for you so you can stick to your goals and set yourself up for success.
Enjoy your holiday meals, and share your healthy recipe with your loved ones!
#9- Practice Healthier Holiday Cooking
Preparing versions of your favorite dishes lower in fat and calories promotes healthy holiday eating.
When you incorporate healthier options into traditional holiday recipes, you can still indulge without the guilt.
If you’re looking for balanced holiday meal ideas, check out my recent article about healthy Thanksgiving recipes!
#10- Recognize Triggers of Emotional Eating
98% of diets fail because they don’t address food addiction and how to overcome emotional eating. Around the holidays, emotional eating can be so common– especially when so many holiday treats are available.
Food sometimes acts as a way to fill any emptiness inside you to create a false feeling of “fullness”.
Eating because of negative emotions often leaves you feeling more upset than before. So to combat emotional eating, finding stress relief measures is key.
This leads us to my next 10 tips geared toward creating less holiday stress.
#11- Hike Up Your Mood with Sunlight
Step outside and enjoy the fresh air and Vitamin D.
Even if you need to bundle up, it’s worth it for that sunshine.
Getting out in the morning sun can enhance your mood, improve your immune system functioning, and even promote better sleep at night.
#12- Take A Whiff of Citrus
The smell of citrus can boost your energy and promote holiday stress relief.
Really, I mean it!
And it’s THAT simple.
Try Grapefruit, or Wild Orange essential oils, and do a 60-second breathing exercise—and watch what happens. .
#13- Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
It seems like everybody is talking about meditation these days.
And that’s because it works!
Although some forms of meditation can be challenging, simple deep breathing is a form of meditation you can do from almost anywhere!
Sit in a quiet space and focus on your breath — slowly flowing in and out of your nostrils. Recognize your thoughts as they come into your mind, then let them go. Focus on your body and the space around it.
Even a few moments of meditation can leave you feeling more balanced and patient for the rest of your day.
#14- Do Less, Enjoy More!
I know– this is easier said than done during the holidays.
With so much chaos, planning, prepping, hosting, and more…
But the most important part of the holidays is spending time with loved ones, and doing what brings you joy.
Make sure you take moments in your day to enjoy! Be present, and don’t sweat the small stuff this season.
#15- Stick With Your Daily Routine!
Don’t let the holidays knock you off your typical daily schedule.
Keep your habits and rituals intact. Continue your morning routines and stay consistent!
And always remember to make self-care a non-negotiable, even if your in-laws are coming over or you’re busy party-planning.
Carve out 5-15 minutes EVERY DAY for just you and get after it!
#16- Don’t Neglect Whatever Cracks You Up
It’s as simple as that.
Laughter is truly the best medicine.
It can help stimulate the release of ALL your feel-good neurotransmitters—which go a long way to making you feel better and even warding off sickness.
Create time for what you love, be present, grateful, and full of joy. And find happiness… even in the littlest things.
#17- Forget Perfection
Stop obsessing over the need for everything to be perfect.
Read that again.
Perfection is boring and it takes away from your enjoyment. Embrace every moment, and move through this holiday season imperfectly perfect.
One of my favorite ways to remind myself is to say THANK YOU to the universe—even when things don’t go as planned.
And always hold the vision that it will get better!
#18- Get Out of The House
In the wintertime, it’s easy to spend every night cuddled up watching a holiday movie.
But don’t hibernate too much this season!
Feeling cooped up can lead to more stress, and a constant need to get your to-dos done around the house.
So go have dinner out somewhere, or get together with family outside of the house. Try something new, and embrace the events and celebrations of the season beyond your own home!
I know I’m looking forward to connecting with friends and family IN PERSON as much as possible.
#19- Make Time for Tech-Free Moments
Try a digital detox for a morning, evening, or especially if you’re enjoying family time.
Turn your phone on “ do not disturb” or even bump it into airplane mode for a few hours and really be present in the moment with those surrounding you.
You only have so many holiday seasons in your life, so cherish this one to the fullest without distraction!
#20- Turn Up Your Favorite Song and Dance
We love doing this in our house, especially when we’re getting ready in the morning, or cooking dinner at night.
And a dance break is always welcome in the middle of the work day.
Crank up the tunes and let it all out!
But wait… I have a bonus tip!
BONUS #21- Don’t Over-Schedule!
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of running from one thing to another during the holidays. Having too much booked on your calendar creates a lot of perceived stress and anxiety.
Decide which plans you can do without this season.
When you prioritize what matters to you most, you can enjoy the special seasonal moments without rushing through them.
Well, there you have it, my top recommendations for surviving the holidays!
Remember, the holiday season is about joy, love, and giving.
So give YOURSELF the gift of self-care and holiday stress relief this year.
And trust me, your loved ones will notice– and they’ll be so grateful that you’re showing up for yourself AND for them in the best way possible.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Navigating the season with mindfulness, self-care, and minimal holiday stress can be a challenge.
But these holiday stress and eating hacks are designed to help you make it through the season with your goals in mind and…
Have fun doing it!
Don’t restrict yourself from enjoying every aspect of the holiday season. But do try to keep these tips in mind when you’re making choices, or managing holiday stress.
Make sure you’re eating nutrients to fuel your body, keep movement in mind, and recognize any holiday stress when it arises.
Trust me, when you implement even a few of these holiday stress and eating hacks this season, you’ll finish out this year feeling stronger, more motivated, and healthier than any other holiday season in the past.
And don’t forget to keep these habits in mind when you’re ringing in the New Year!
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Until then, cheers to the holiday season, and don’t forget these healthy holiday stress and eating hacks!