Start this holiday season with a slew of new, healthy traditions that incorporate fun, family time, and good cheer without hurting your waistline or throwing you off track.
Here, IIN alum and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Sheila Petersen recommends her tips for creating nourishing holiday traditions. It could be just what you need to gain perspective over the holidays and set yourself up for a good year ahead.
Create a Family Exercise Goal
“Start your day with a walk, run, or activity where the whole family can be involved. Movement is the best thing you can do for your body after sitting for long periods of time and to ward off weight gain due to the increase in food and beverages that the holidays bring,” says Petersen. “Don't quit on your exercise routine just because it’s the holidays,” she says.
Make it a group effort for extra accountability. Sign up for a race with friends so that you’re all working hard together. Plus, it’s an excuse to stick with a training schedule.
Bring Healthy Foods to Potlucks
“Plan to fail or fail to plan. This is my motto for the holidays or any gathering I attend where there will be food. I know that if I bring a healthy dish, there will be healthy options for myself and my guests,” she says. “A bowl of berries or a veggie and hummus tray is quick and simple to put together. Your dish will add colorful nutrition and balance to the other sweets and processed foods on the table,” she says.
Better yet? Make it a group tradition, where everyone partakes and brings a healthier, slimmed-down dish.
Express Gratitude and Be in the Moment
“Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The first hour sets the tone for your day,” she says.
So, meditate early. “Beginning with a word of the day to keep you centered will bring an awareness when you feel triggered by the day-to-day. Keep a list of words and pick one each day as a reminder to practice mindfulness. The word tends to bring you back into the present moment. When we begin to practice proactivity rather than reactivity, we reap the benefits of well-being mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically,” she says.
Make Smart Choices During the Day
“To avoid overindulging, drink a few glasses of water or add in a protein shake before heading to an event. I like to keep a small pack of almonds in my bag as well,” she says. You could also encourage your family to offer more low-calorie beverages and flavored waters over sodas, juices, and alcohol.
“Spending time with family can be difficult. Have a plan in place if you feel triggered, and step out for a walk, practice a breathing exercise, or practice gratitude and shift your perspective on what you can learn from the situation. I like 4-7-8 breathing by Dr. Andrew Weil,” she says. And include your family in the process! Suggest everyone take a walk together or spend a few moments expressing what everyone’s thankful for.
What are your favorite traditions? Please share below!