3 Simple Healthy Holiday Tips!
Tis the season! We all know how easy it can be to overindulge and stress out during the holidays. The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain, low energy, and an overall “blah” feeling when it’s all said and done!
By implementing these few simple tips, you and your family can stay healthy, happy and stress-free through the holiday season!
Tip #1- Eat This, NOT That!
Prepare healthier, lighter versions of your favorite holiday recipes. You do not have to forego the traditional meals we all love and look forward to this time of year. What kind of holiday would that be? But, you can make them a little healthier by switching out a few ingredients! Try replacing some of the ingredients with these alternatives:
Ingredients- Use organic ingredients whenever possible!
Try non-dairy alternatives like almond, rice, hemp, or coconut milk. I love coconut milk because it is really creamy and works well in many holiday recipes that call for milk or cream! I am using it in the mashed potatoes and the green bean casserole!
Earth Balance is my ABSOLUTE favorite butter alternative. It melts and tastes just like butter. But, it does not have Trans-fat and is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids! You can find this most grocery stores now.
I cannot say enough about coconut oil! It really is a miracle food. I use it for absolutely everything, from sautéing to baking. It can be substituted for oil, butter or shortening in most recipes! Oh, and if you have some leftover, you can even use it as a moisturizer! It’s amazing!
One basic rule of thumb is to stay away from anything WHITE! There are many healthy flours. Look for those made from whole grain. There are many to choose from, including spelt, kamut, buckwheat, and brown rice. Garbanzo bean and coconut flours are great for those on a gluten-free diet! If you can’t find any of these, at least try to use whole wheat if you don’t have a sensitivity.
Again, stay away from the WHITE stuff…please!!! Most people know how horrible sugar is for you, but artificial sweeteners aren’t any better. They are full of chemicals! Some healthier options include: stevia (the best because it does not raise blood sugar levels), agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, pure maple syrup, and coconut nectar. You could also use dried fruit, like dates in many recipes. I love adding date dip to apple crisp!
A Few Other Substitutes:
- Arrowroot- You can use this in place of flour or corn starch to thicken sauces, soups, casseroles, and gravy, etc. It is gluten-free.
- Broth- If buying broth for stuffing or gravy, look for organic vegetable broth that is low-sodium or salt-free.
- Cashews or Silken Tofu- These are both great choices for dips or casseroles. You can puree cashews with water, which makes a great replacement for cream or sour cream in most recipes. Silken tofu is also very creamy and delicious in dips!
Think about all of the recipes that call for the ingredients listed above. Just by making a few substitutions, you can increase the nutritional value and make holiday meals much healthier for you and your family!
Tip #2- Stay Calm, Don’t Stress!
I know, I know. This is easier said than done! With the hustle and bustle of the holidays it is easy to lose our cool, feel overwhelmed and anxious. Let’s try to make this year different! Let go of what you can’t control. YES, there will be lines! YES, there will be traffic! YES, there will be rude people! You can’t control that, but you can control how you respond to it, which will have a ripple effect on the people around you.
Why?- Stress can have many negative effects on your health even if you don’t realize it! It can effect your body, mood, and behavior. It can cause headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, and sleep problems just to name a few. It can also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. It’s time to chill out, everyone!
This is something that I’ve really had to (and continue to) work on. It is easy to get stressed out by work, family, finances, etc., which is only exasperated during the holidays!
Here are 5 ways you can relieve stress this holiday season:
- Breathe- Sounds simple, right? It is! Take a time-out to breath when you are feeling stressed. Take 5-15 minutes to sit or lay down. Make sure you are relaxed in your face and body. Concentrate on the flow of your breath. Notice the uneven pattern. Then, focus on the length of your in-breath and out-breath. Breathe in your nose and out through your mouth evenly. When you even out and calm your breath, you calm your mind! This is especially helpful when you are stuck in traffic!
- Meditate- If this conjures up images of monks at a Buddhist Temple for you, I understand. It was very uncomfortable for me at first. But, very much like the breathing exercise above, meditation can be a short, simple activity to help you relieve stress. You don’t need special equipment or a long amount of time. I love this website with FREE guided mediations. I plug in my headphones and listen to one at night. Click here for a stress relief meditation.
- Yoga- If you have been practicing yoga for a while, you understand how therapeutic it is for the mind, body, and spirit. It’s a work out for the mind as well as for the body. It is has really changed my life. I am even planning on going Thanksgiving morning. It helps me to better handle any stressful situation. If you have never been, or are fearful that you will have to contort your body into a pretzel, have no fear! Take a beginner or gentle stretch class. I took beginner classes for a while! You will grow and get stronger in more ways than one. I highly recommend it!
- Aromatherapy- This is one of the oldest relaxation therapies practiced today. You can use essential oils in massage or in a bath. I take a bath with Epsom salts and 5-10 drops of lavender oil nearly every night. It helps me unwind, relax, and get a better night’s sleep. Other relaxing oils to use are: chamomile, ylang ylang, neroli and clary sage.
- Reiki- I realize that many people may not be familiar with this technique. Along with yoga, I credit Reiki for helping me become more calm and balanced. When you are out of balance, you are more likely to get sick and stressed. This gentle, yet powerful form of healing, helps remove any blockages and restore balance naturally. Find a practitioner near you. Give it a try!
Click Here For More Information About Reiki
Tip #3- Give Healthy Gifts
Now that you’ve considered ways to take improve your health this holiday season, here are some ways to improve the health of your family and friends.
Healthy Gift Baskets are the perfect gift for those who already live a healthy lifestyle or for those who are on their journey to attaining good health. There is no better gift than the gift of good health! You can easily create your own healthy gift baskets with a theme tailored to that special someone.
Healthy gift baskets would be perfect for anyone on your list! Think outside the box (or “basket”) this year. Who really needs another shirt, sweater, or tie? These are just material things that are not very meaningful or unique. Most times our loved ones won’t even remember these presents we gave them. So, why not make it a useful gift that will improve their health?
Click Here to See 4 Healthy Gift Basket Ideas
So, I hope these 3 tips help you and your family have a healthier holiday season!
- Substitute a few ingredients for healthier options!
- Chill out! Do one or more of the stress-relieving techniques so you are a much happier, calmer person this holiday season!
- Give healthy, useful gifts to family and friends to show you care.
B balanced. B happy. B simply healthy.
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