It’s that time of the year again. Time to gather with family and friends to celebrate and make merry…all while adding a million things to your “to do” list and navigating a gauntlet of food and drink that can leave you feeling less than joyful by New Year’s Day! Ugh! But it doesn’t need to be that way. With a little mindful planning, you can enjoy every minute of the holidays without depleting your energy and jeopardizing health gains you’ve worked so hard for all year. Here are my best tips for looking and feeling your best straight through New Year’s Day:
Be prepared! Life gets busy at this time of year. Make sure your pantry and refrigerator are filled with healthy foods. A little time spent prepping some easy-to-grab items at the beginning of the week will set you up to make better choices all week long.
Try to keep to a schedule. Don’t throw all your good habits out the door until January! Steal some time just for you…even if it’s just 20 minutes to “check in” with yourself.
Fit in fitness! Sure, you may not have time to make it to the gym or your favorite yoga class, but you can still incorporate physical activity into your day through non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or movement as part of daily living. Try parking further away at the grocery store or shopping center. Put on some tunes and dance around your kitchen while baking holiday treats. Extra bonus points for working exercise into the “down times” of your day, i.e. how many squats can you do while waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning?
And speaking of coffee…try not to overdo it! You may think the caffeine helps you power through your busy day, but it just stresses your adrenal glands in the long run. Remember that caffeine and alcohol are also dehydrating, so if you do indulge be sure to increase your water intake to stay hydrated!
Make sure you get enough sleep. Research has shown that getting less than 6 1/2 hours causes an overproduction of ghrelin, a hormone that increases your appetite.Sleep deprivation also makes you irritable, and that’s no fun for you OR the people you love!
Be aware of the negative impact gluten and dairy can have even if you are not specifically diagnosed with an allergy or disorder. Both foods are highly inflammatory and may keep you from feeling your best.
Stay away from processed, convenience foods…especially if you’re likely to be indulging in a few fresh baked Christmas cookies or other holiday treats.
Make sure your diet includes lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as dark leafy greens. These complex carbs are rich in phytonutrients and great for providing sustained energy. A salad of mixed greens, endive, sliced apple, pomegranate seeds, and chopped pistachios would be a seasonally beautiful and delicious addition to your table!
Have healthier snack options available, especially to grab as you run out the door to do some last-minute shopping! Carry a bag of nuts and fruit, or a protein bar (look for one with only a few ingredients, none being sugar. I like Lara bars.). Or, you can whip up a batch of my Gingerbread Cacao Power Balls (recipe below).
Be kind to yourself and others! Keep it all in perspective. You don’t need to eat ALL the sugar, party ALL night every night, or shop ‘til you literally drop. At the same time, it’s okay to have a latke or two, a slice of your favorite pie, or to enjoy being part of the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Just maybe aim for a bit of balance so your spirits remain bright through December and well into the New Year! Merry Happy to one and all!
GINGERBREAD CACAO POWER BALLS
1/2 C cashew butter
1/3 C vanilla protein powder (I like Sun Warrior Plant-Based Complete Protein)
1/3 C ground flax seed
3 T molasses
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp raw cacao
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 C finely chopped pecans
Additional cacao for coating balls, optional
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until it forms a dough. Roll pieces of the dough into 1” balls and roll in cacao (if using). Store in refrigerator.