Ah, the holidays. They're a beautiful time of love, laughter, and togetherness…and overindulgence and hangovers.
Yes, even the healthiest of us struggle to keep the whole eating and drinking aspect of this season in check. And even if you try to ramp up your workout routine to counter December's through-the-roof treat quotient, it's hard to find the time for follow-through between gift shopping and parties.
That's why it pays (in the form of good health and calm spirit) to find quick, easy ways to nourish your body this month. Leave the complex homemade smoothie recipes and intricate vegetarian meals for January, when you'll have all the time in the world for shopping, peeling and chopping. For the holidays, try these 5 tips for staying healthy (and giving yourself a break).
1. Protect breakfast as your health-warrior territory.
They can tempt you with cookies in the afternoon, cocktails in the evening and apple pie at night, so just say "no, thanks" when Aunt Sue offers you that pile of pancakes in the a.m.
Let your first bites of the day be of the wholesome, nourishing, set- off-on-the- right-foot variety, and—most importantly—keep it simple. Look for simple sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates such as milk, yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, or a cold-pressed, pre-bottled smoothie. Jam in the nutrients at breakfast, and you'll have at least one meal each and every day to feel great about (you may feel so good about yourself that you're inspired to take it easy on the crab puffs at the holiday party later on).
2. Match naughty and nice, bite for bite.
One cornerstone of staying slim and healthy is moderation, which can include letting yourself indulge from time to time. Stay too strict with yourself, and the one piece of cake you turned down today can turn into three you binge on tomorrow.
Don't be that guy (or girl). Go ahead and occasionally enjoy those butter-packed mashed potatoes and sugar coated peppermint bark, but try preceding it with something healthy, like carrot sticks or clementine wedges. Or, experiment with juice pairing (green juice tastes amazing alongside that crown roast!). These tactics help ensure that the month's indulgences won't squeeze out the nutrients you need, and your healthy preamble might fill you up a bit, leaving a little less room for the treats.
3. Choose ingredients wisely.
In a month when your healthy choices might be a tad overshadowed, you're going to want a little extra nutritional bang for your buck. Now's the time to spring for premium, fresh, local produce that's packed with nutrition. If you're taking a bottle of juice to the mall with you—a great alternative to have in your bag when you walk by the free samples—make sure it's cold-pressed using high pressuring processing, a process that ensures safety and helps protect flavor and nutrients (one bottle of Evolution Fresh juice can pack up to 40 percent of your recommended intake for certain nutrients!).
4. Give health-junkie gifts.
Are you as behind on shopping for presents as we are? Here's an idea that solves that problem and more. Make Holiday Season 2014 the year of the health-inspired gift. Give your loved ones cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, juice presses…whatever grabs you as tools for your loved ones' healthiest lives.
You can see where we're headed with this. Before you hit the checkout lane at Home Goods, throw some stay-healthy gifts for yourself in the cart. Your spree is sure to inspire you to feel great during the most indulgent time of year—and to start 2015 with the right mindset, on the right foot.
5. Put yourself on the calendar.
What's the best way to completely abandon the healthy habits you work hard to maintain 11 months out of the year? Over-schedule yourself to the point that artichoke dip and champagne cocktails count as dinner.
It's tempting to say "yes" to all 12 party invites you received, but is it worthwhile if it means you can't eat a laid-back meal, go for a run, or have a thought to yourself for a full five weeks? Be a slave to your calendar—fine—but block off afternoons and evenings that aren't about wrapping presents or decorating your house and instead are about taking care of you. Your 2015 self will thank you for it.