In Need Of A Mid-Holiday Re-Set? We’ve Got You Covered (No Detox Required)
The holidays are meant for eating, drinking, and merriment. But if you’re left feeling a little overstuffed after Turkey Day, we’ve got tips to help you rebound and get back on track with ease.
Here at Ascend, we hope your Thanksgiving celebration was well spent indulging in your favorite foods alongside good company. If, by chance, you went a little overboard (you’re not alone), we’re here to tell you not to worry. One day of splurging is not going to wreck your health goals. That said, with Turkey day behind us it’s a good time to check in with ourselves and make sure the food coma doesn’t last until January 1.
When you develop a wellness routine that allows space for your favorite treats, you’re less likely to continuously overindulge—a pattern often followed by regret (a negative cycle we don’t support). We encourage building healthful practices that can navigate the ebb and flow of special events, gatherings, and temptations without deprivation. We’re also human, and recognize healthy intentions can be challenged by an overabundance of rich and delicious treats this time of year. Overdoing it on junk food may lead to feelings of lethargy, irritability, and digestive upset—quite the opposite of feeling our best. Holiday festivities and social engagements feed us in ways that go beyond food—and these fun times should rejuvenate us, not drag us down. For that reason we’ve compiled suggestions for regaining balance now so you can feel like your energetic, vibrant self through the remaining holiday season.
Bounce back to your wellness routine with these strategies:
1. Limit eating out
In other words, get back to your regular eating routine and cook. Sure, you’ve likely got parties and social events to attend, but plan to cook at home as much as possible outside of those engagements. Cooking at home gives you more control over the quality of ingredients and portion sizes. Oftentimes, restaurants use poor quality cooking oils or too much salt along with tactics such as low lighting, large plates, etc. that entice us to eat more than we would at home. Bonus? You’ll also save money, which can be helpful on the wallet during gift-giving season.
2. Load up on nutrient-dense veggies
Aim to fill half of your plate (or recipe) with colorful vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens. Do this for at least one meal per day. This naturally reduces space for less nutrient-dense or carb-heavy items. Bonus points if you can squeeze some veggies in your breakfast a few times per week, too. Sauté spinach with eggs, toss greens in a smoothie or add cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes to your yogurt. It’s important to stay nourished this time of year—not skimp on meals to save for splurges. Veggies do the body good by offering vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so load up.
3. Avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster
The right balance of protein, good fat, and fiber can help stabilize blood sugar levels, ease cravings and keep energy levels stable. Choose quality proteins such as wild-caught fish, organic grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken and eggs, or plant-based options such as nuts, nut butter or seeds. Make sure you’ve got some fiber-rich veggies on your plate and incorporate healthy oils or avocado for good fat. Most importantly, limit excess carbs and sugar, which initiate the spike-and-crash cycle leading to fatigue and more cravings.
4. Clean up your beverages
By now, we’re all aware that soda provides empty calories. But calories can sneak up on us in many sugar-laden holiday drinks. It’s fine to imbibe in these beverages here and there, but do so mindfully. Up your water intake to stay hydrated and offset feelings of bloat often linked to an increased intake of alcohol and salty or sugary party food. Otherwise, opt for sparkling water, herbal tea, black coffee and simple lattes with a dash of honey and cinnamon. When you choose to drink alcohol, you’re better off reaching for clear options (vodka, tequila) and avoiding the sugary cocktails.
5. Get moving (with friends)
Short days and cold temps make it more challenging to stick to your routine, but exercise can boost energy and mood—pretty crucial components of a holiday survival plan. Schedule your workouts in advance and invite friends—it truly helps to have an accountability buddy relying on you when the snooze button is oh–so- tempting. Plus, catching up with friends while working out knocks two things off your (overly-stuffed) holiday schedule, a win-win. Returning to a consistent workout routine, even if less intense, will help you make all-around healthier choices.
6. Support digestion
Rich holiday foods, booze, and stress can negatively impact our gut. Focus on working in gut-friendly practices to boost digestion. A daily probiotic, enjoying warm lemon water in the morning, and sipping on ginger tea, peppermint tea, or kombucha can help. Make sure that you get enough fiber in your daily diet from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, chia seeds and nuts. Drinking plenty of water and regular exercise also support your digestive system.
7. De-stress on the daily
Emotional overwhelm can get the best of us this time of year; holiday pressures and busy schedules make it ever so important to carve out a few minutes for you to de-stress and unwind. Whether that means taking a walk, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths before walking into a chaotic office, hiding from your kiddos in the bathroom for a quick sanity break (been there)—whatever works for you. Another tip to keep stress at bay during this bustling time of year is to keep in mind what’s truly important—being present and enjoying time with family and friends. Prioritize your time and energy for what will nourish you the most, then set boundaries accordingly and honor them.
8. Let it go
At the end of the day, it’s important not to tie negative emotions to the occasional splurge. When you feel crappy from too much junk, it’s tempting to fall victim to the f*ck it mindset and allow overindulgences to last all season long. On the flipside, it may cause some to over-restrict, which also backfires. Instead, shift your perspective to acknowledge that the holidays can come with the occasional splurge—and that’s okay! A minor binge is not going to greatly deter your wellness goals, especially when you consider the other health benefits associated with such social occasions. Stay flexible and set realistic expectations. The less pressure we put on ourselves, the more quickly we’ll return to healthier choices that fuel us.
Blogpost by Ascend Health Coach Ashley Hart