Nourishing Your Mind and Body to Fully Enjoy the Holiday Season
by Alyssa Pike, RD
November 27, 2019 .3 min read
It’s that time of year when everything seems to blur together -- family, friends, food, presents, decorations, movies and more! The holiday season is meant to be a time filled with joy, belonging and celebration, but for some, it can be filled with anxiety or stress, especially when it comes to prioritizing our health.
With all there is to consider this time of year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Let’s talk about how to balance our health with all of this season’s demands, so we can make the most of our holidays.
Make a Plan, But Keep it Flexible
Hopefully, you’re already building food into your budget for the month, but if not -- this is a great place to start! To help with budget planning, track your grocery expenses for a few weeks to see what your average is. If you’re looking to stay within a certain range, it may be helpful to make a list of general ideas for meals or snacks. I typically recommend three food groups at each eating occasion.
Here are a few meal/snack suggestions:
Breakfast: toast, peanut butter, and two hard boiled eggs
Lunch: mixed greens salad with chicken, cheese, croutons and dressing
Snack: string cheese, fruit and nuts
Dinner: fish with green beans and rice
Snack: yogurt with granola and dark chocolate
Since it’s the holiday season, be prepared for last minute changes. If you see your favorite seasonal snack, enjoy it! It’s definitely possible for some sweets to fit into your budget and meal planning.
Stop the Comparison
It’s easy to think about what everyone else is doing or what you wish you were doing, but a heart of gratitude is really key for feeling content in this season. Keeping a gratitude list that you regularly add to can help you focus on what you’ve been given, instead of what you wish you had.
Additionally, try setting boundaries to keep a clear headspace -- especially with social media. You can add limits to how long you’re on a certain app each day and set quiet times when all apps are locked. Whether it’s a gratitude list or boundaries, do what you need to do so you don’t let unrealistic expectations and comparison ruin this time of year.
Give Yourself Permission
While I appreciate the desire to focus on your health, sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is allow yourself to enjoy the food and company you’re with and not worry about the last time you “hit the gym” or what’s left on your to-do list. I promise you it will be okay -- your worst fears will not come true if you skip a workout or push the snooze button. Life ebbs and flows and certain times of year lend themselves to routine more than others. It’s okay to indulge and take it slow for a bit!
We often have very rigid ideas of what exercise should look like: think militant, high-intensity exercise that leaves you exhausted and maybe in a little pain. I prefer to use the term movement instead of exercise -- it feels gentler and more encouraging. There’s nothing wrong with a tough workout (I enjoy them too!) but there are so many other ways to move and it’s important to find what you really enjoy.
Walking counts. Stretching counts. Sports count. Hiking counts. Cooking and cleaning count. Let’s remove the shame that comes with the constant pressure to exercise militantly and instead find ways to move our bodies that feel energizing and refreshing. You’ll feel better (without all that guilt) and will be more likely to stick with it.
Health is multifaceted and looks different depending on the season. Be gentle with yourself as you progress through the busiest time of the year -- you can do this.
Alyssa Pike, RD
Alyssa Pike is the Registered Dietitian behind Gratefully Nourished, a blog for those struggling with disordered eating, perfectionism and body image concerns. Alyssa believes in a non-diet, weight-inclusive approach to nutrition, and her goal is to help women remove anxiety & fear when it comes to food so they can live a fulfilling life. Alyssa's professional experience has been primarily in eating disorder nutrition counseling and the translation of nutrition science into easily digestible content for the nonprofit, IFIC. Additionally, she is the Partnerships Coordinator for Weight Inclusive Nutrition and Dietetics (WIND) and recently started her own private practice, Alyssa Pike Nutrition, LLC. You can follow her work on instagram @gratefully_nourished.