You don’t have to be the Grinch to feel like the holidays are really challenging. When you’re on a health journey, the holidays can feel impossible to navigate.
There are holiday meals with treats aplenty. There are endless to-do lists and few moments to do anything for yourself. There’s the instinctive desire to cozy up on the couch and watch holiday classics all day. And above all, there’s the seemingly inescapable tendency to revert to some earlier version of yourself (and your old habits) around family and friends. But why? Often, the triggers that you’ve worked hard to overcome are intensified over the holidays—and that’s okay.
Because this time of year is so busy and unpredictable, it’s important to think practically. Goals during less-structured times like the holidays tend to look a little different from your day-to-day goals. It’s unlikely that you’ll practice all of the healthy habits you’ve picked up once the holidays roll around. So, we’ve put a spin on some of the healthy habits you know and love, and defined six simple (but impactful) actions that you can keep during the holiday season.
- Eat a satisfying, nutritious snack two hours before a big lunch or dinner. It can be tempting to “save room” for a holiday meal, but going into a meal overly hungry is a recipe for overeating. Enjoying a satisfying, nutritious snack beforehand will take the edge off your appetite and help you eat a more reasonable amount of food later on. You can try veggies and hummus, whole-grain crackers and guacamole, greek yogurt with fruit, or a handful of nuts and cheese, for a satisfying, well-balanced snack.
- Start your day by setting one healthy intention. Maybe you commit to logging all of your meals, even the holiday meals where you eat a lot of red foods. Perhaps you plan to eat two green foods at breakfast or enjoy your favorite holiday dessert that you previously told yourself was off-limits. Or maybe you decide to meditate for 15 minutes in the evening or do something else that will help you keep your stress at bay. Setting a healthy intention first thing in the morning can help you keep your health top-of-mind throughout the day and have a small goal to work toward.
- Have a full glass of water with every meal and with any alcoholic beverage. Water keeps you hydrated. Water helps fill you up. And ultimately, water helps support your body in digesting and excreting all of the delicious peppermint bark, eggnog, and mashed potatoes you consume. Your daily water goal is one of the easier goals to reach during the holiday season. Make your water more enjoyable (and festive) by filling adding rosemary, cranberries, and a squeeze of lemon to a pitcher of water.
- Go for a walk with your family post-meal. Moving your body is another way to improve your digestion and an extra-worthy goal post–glazed ham. With so much home time (read: couch time) over the holidays, taking a walk is a simple way to stay active, reach your step goal, and reduce holiday stress. Do it with family and friends, and the whole house will feel better—it can become a fun tradition too.
- Take a 5 minute self-care break midday. Health is about more than what you eat and how you move your body. Health is about taking care of yourself—body, mind, and spirit. During the holiday season, when we’re often busy taking care of other people, it’s especially important to set aside some time to take care of our needs. While you might not be able to carve out an hour to read or go to the gym, you can find 5 minutes to sit down and enjoy an uninterrupted cup of coffee or tea, listen to your favorite mood-boosting song, step outside for some fresh air, or take a warm shower. Whatever you do, tell yourself that this time is for you.
- Celebrate one win at the end of every day. At Noom, we believe that celebrating your progress is one of the most important habits you can build to increase your motivation and self-efficacy. Some days it might feel challenging to find a “win,” but every small effort you make to stay on course over the holidays is praiseworthy. Did you log all of your meals honestly even though you went over your goal? Did you practice a breathing exercise instead of grabbing a snack when you were stressed? Take a moment at the end of each day to write down and celebrate one positive choice you made.
Practicing these six habits is a great way to keep your health top-of-mind in a low-stress way. Know that no matter what happens over the holidays, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your progress. You’re continuing to learn about yourself, your strengths, your triggers, and your opportunities to grow. Every day is a new beginning, and Noom is here to guide you every step of the way.
Other articles you might like:
- Recipe roundup: 12 healthier-for-you holiday desserts From gingerbread cookies to peppermint bark, we have better-for-you takes on your favorite festive treats
- How to respond when your family and friends judge your food choices Whether you want to defuse the situation with humor or set a firm boundary, we have a variety of ways to tactfully respond