Learn easy and practical tips for staying healthy during the holidays. We’ll cover hosting, visiting as well as travelling. Furthermore, you’ll master the art of saying no, dealing with your cravings and coping mechanisms for when you cave in and have that piece of sugary cake.
I’ve successfully surfed through eight holiday seasons on a plant-based diet by now. Believe me, I’ve seen it all and can’t wait to share my tips and tricks with you!
Watch me explain all the healthy holiday tips in the below video:
Table of contents
- Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays
- 5 Tips for Healthy Hosting During the Holidays
- 4 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays While Visiting
- Healthy Holiday Tips for Travelling
- How to Say NO and Stay Healthy During the Holidays
- How to Deal with Cravings
- Tips for Damage Control for When You Caved in
- Extra Tips on Staying Healthy During the Holidays
Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays
The winter months can be the time of the year when our food choices count the most to stay healthy. It’s because the darkness and cold can trigger the cravings more than during the bright and warm seasons.
First and foremost, to stay on the board, don’t make your life difficult by pursuing perfection when it comes to travelling, visiting and social gatherings. Remember, it’s about being together with your family and friends rather than fighting about food.
You face the following situations that might jeopardise your healthy eating habits during the holidays. Those may be Halloween, dia de los muertos, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, cinco de mayo or other festivities.
- You may be hosting or visiting people with different (and not so healthy) lifestyles.
- In addition, it may require travelling to get to your event.
- You might encounter pushy people – you know, family members or friends who can’t bear healthy habits and try to drag you down with them.
- That sugary cake might really start calling out your name and you feel that you simply can’t resist.
- And finally, you did cave in and don’t know what to do with all the regret and physical ailments.
5 Tips for Healthy Hosting During the Holidays
- Care about your guests! When you’re the host, ask people whether there’s something they don’t eat and make sure to have at least one dish without it. Also, encourage people to bring whatever they want to eat.
- Set rules! If you want your kids to avoid sugary sweets and oily-salty foods, ask your guests politely not to bring any conventional sweet treats, crisps and sugary drinks into your home.
- Make your food visually appealing. Use different textures as well like something creamy (hummus), with something crunchy (raw peeled and cut veggies and whole grain crackers or toasted whole grain bread), with something hearty-looking (risotto, lasagne, pasta, pie or a stew), and then something light and leafy (green salad.)
- Be sneaky with ingredients! I mean, not everyone has an open mind about novelty so try not to disclose the ingredients before the guests have tasted the food. When they have already commented on how good everything tastes, then you can reveal the contents…if they’re interested.
- Accommodate different palates! We all have different taste buds so no matter how you think the food tastes, be sure to have salt and pepper on hand. I have a friend who rubs salt on any dish before even tasting it. That’s her choice.
Watch how to make a healthy and delicious holiday dinner:
4 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays While Visiting
- Eat before you go (yes, you read that right) or bring your own foods! If you visit a carnivore friend or a family member who won’t prepare anything special for you, eat before you go or bring your own foods to contribute. People actually will appreciate this. It’s easy to prepare and take foods like raw candies, muffins, cookies, raw cut veggies, hummus, guacamole, nut spreads, whole grain crackers and bread or even a dish like lasagne, risotto, casserole, curry.
- Gather your information beforehand! Let’s say there’s a set menu for the event. Simply ask the host about it and see whether you can combine a meal.
- Don’t be demanding! When your host is considerate enough and asks about your eating habits, don’t go crazy by ordering a three-course, oil-free plant-based perfectly balanced meal. Instead, emphasise you’re not coming for the food but for the good company. Ask for simple things like a salad and tomatoes without dressing, cut veggies and canned beans. If the host really wants to cook something you’ll enjoy, then a good and easy option is whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and beans. A good rule is to always offer to bring something yourself, so the host doesn’t have to bother too much.
- Be considerate of other people! The big thing about visiting is to remember not to disapprove or be patronising towards other people’s eating habits and lifestyle: it’s their choice and they’ll change only if they want to change. I’ve learned this the hard way, but you don’t have to!
Healthy Holiday Tips for Travelling
Maybe you need to take a road trip, a plane or train to get to your holiday event? No worries, here are some useful tips:
Pack food to go! If you’re travelling by car, make sure you pack as much as you can before leaving home. Along your route, visit grocery stores and you can make a simple meal without cooking a thing. As well, check gas stations. Some service stations will surprise you at what they sell.
Pre-order meals! If you’re travelling by plane, some airlines will let you pre-order a vegan meal. However, these are often expensive, small and packed with oil, salt and sugar. To avoid the extra cost to your wallet and waistline, cook and pack meals at home prior to take-off.
My favourite travelling foods include:
- Oatmeal. You can take the dry mix with you and ask hot water to pour over it once in air. It’s also a good option for road trip or train/bus ride.
- Pre-cooked grains and canned beans with which you can easily combine a balanced meal adding some ready-to use sauce (watch those ingredients though).
- Fresh fruits, berries and vegetables;
- Whole-grain cookies or crackers;
- Energy bars, bliss balls;
- Nuts, seeds and dried fruits/berries/vegetables;
- Tea bags, especially if you’re into herbal teas, take with you some chamomile and peppermint. It’s usually easier to get black or green tea in the road.
- Organic broth powder is excellent to whip up a comforting drink;
- Low glycemic sweetener(s). If you’re on a special diet or simply avoid conventional sweeteners like sugar and syrups, make sure to bring suitable ones. I’d definitely pack erythritol and mesquite. Read more on low glycemic sweeteners.
- And finally, herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger and cinnamon to add to your oatmeal or even prepare a warming latte or tea. Learn how to make Gingerbread Spice Mix and Indian Spice Mix.
How to Say NO and Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Moving on to dealing with people who are determined to drag you down with them. They simply aren’t able understand how someone can enjoy themselves without drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy foods. Do you have those people in your life? I certainly do!
Don’t let anyone push yourself off the wagon! Remember:
- Your health is the most important thing! So, don’t eat food just to please others! It doesn’t make sense and you know it!
- Reach out to your hosts before the event! Talk to them about the change in your diet and the reasons behind it.
- Make them understand that it’s not about attacking their habits, but about YOU feeling better and being happier! Describe the changes you’ve already experienced and how much better you feel.
- Furthermore, ask for their support. For example, ask them to support you through this journey. Or, tell them how much you’d appreciate if they supported you getting healthy! Now, I don’t imagine anyone would refuse such a request! If they do, they’re most probably not your best friends!
- Bring your own dishes that you can also share with others! Don’t expect the host to accommodate your dietary restrictions!
- Finally, assure the hosts that you’re there because of them and other guests – it’s about enjoying the time together and not that much about the food. Of course, it’s important, but food shouldn’t be the centrepiece of the event.
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How to Deal with Cravings
What if you yourself will have strong cravings and feel like you won’t be able to resist? Maybe that sugary cake is like a powerful magnet that you can’t stay away from? Here are a few tips to stop cravings and staying healthy during the holidays.
- Remember why you started eating the way you do in the first place. Embrace the positive changes and don’t let go of them!
- Visualise your body and mindset prior to your lifestyle changes – would you like to go back there, feeling the way you did?
- When you feel tempted to grab that piece of sugary cake, imagine very vividly how you’d feel after eating it! How many minutes would your pleasure last before it gets substituted with physical ailments and regret? This is what works the best with me – knowing that I’d feel miserable for even days after just 5 minutes of munching on that crappy cake (let’s be honest). The moment I visualise that, the cake becomes really unappealing. Try that!
- Another way to keep those cravings at bay is to prepare plenty of healthy treats whenever there’s a gathering, so that you don’t have to drool over other people’s (not-so-healthy) treats. I’m talking about brownies, muffins, bliss balls, and even cakes.
Tips for Damage Control for When You Caved in
Let’s say that an unexpected wave managed to push you off the board and you had that sugary cake. Now what?
The worst thing to do would be to waste your energy on feeling guilty! It’s done, you’re under the water, all soaked, you can’t change that. Now, I don’t mean this would justify binge eating. On the contrary, this is where you need to stop and look forward.
- Acknowledge that it happened, make peace with your body and promise to treat it better from that moment on.
- Go for a brisk walk – physical activity after a meal will help you keep your blood sugar spike from climbing too high.
- Even though you’ll be able to blunt that spike to some extent, you won’t prevent your blood sugar from climbing a bit too high resulting in blood sugar low later. To make that easier on you, snack on raw veggies or other low glycemic foods in order to stabilise your system. Read more on Low Glycemic Diet.
- Take probiotics before you go to bed.
- And most importantly, start fresh the next day with a huge glass of warm lemon water on an empty stomach, exercise and nourishing food.
Extra Tips on Staying Healthy During the Holidays
Take the focus off the food by engaging in conversations or initiating a fun game that doesn’t involve eating. Have you noticed how small children barely eat at parties? They are simply so engaged by all the playing that’s going on that they don’t have time for food.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated, i.e. drink lot’s of water. It’s like that wave under your surfboard that carries your forward.
Don’t let holidays become an excuse to let exercise slip: stay active! It’s as simple as taking the stairs whenever you can and walking every day.
Whenever at home, cook foods from scratch instead of buying ready-made meals or ordering take-away.
And most importantly, enjoy the food that you’re eating and the good time together with your family and friends!
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