Still mapping out your Thanksgiving menu? Daydreaming of Christmas already? Don’t get caught up in the sugar-and-fat laden hype. You can still enjoy your holidays without wreaking havoc on your health.
Thanksgiving, in particular, has its roots in harvesting a bounty of healthful, wholesome foods that would sustain families and communities through hardworking winters and an unpredictable new year. Let your feast this year reflect that strong foundation. Here are some ways to make this Thanksgiving one your body will thank you for.
10 Tips for Stress-Free, Fat-Burning Holidays
1. Plan ahead.
When you plan and prep ahead of time, you can more easily stick to whole foods made from scratch without losing your mind in the process. Make a menu, delegate, and start working on it over the weekend (or before!) to minimize cut-corners and stress-meltdowns.
2. Use real foods.
With a plan in place, you can make sure only real foods hit your table. Be careful with packaged foods labeled as healthy or natural – they can be deceiving! Instead, make sure ingredients lists include only a few recognizable foods, or better yet, stick with homemade dishes as much as you can!
3. Cut the gluten.
Even if you aren’t intolerant, gluten is difficult for your body to break down. By using gluten free flours, or sprouted or cultured wheat, you’re taking a load off of your digestive system.
4. Be carb-picky.
Better yet, just choose carbs carefully to begin with! Baked sweet potatoes and quinoa provide lots of nutrients without spiking insulin. In short, the right kind of carb “sticks to your ribs” without sticking to your gut or thighs.
5. Swap the sugars.
Without the accompanying antioxidants and minerals found in whole sweeteners like honey, molasses, and even real maple syrup, insulin levels and storage methods go haywire. Natural sweeteners can create a decadent dessert that your body is prepared to handle.
6. Eat your calories.
If you’re avoiding heavy sugar portions, this probably goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway: sugary seasonal drinks aren’t doing you any favors. Drinking heavily sugared drinks (for example, pumpkin spice lattes) adds calories that you aren’t even aware of, and that’s the least of the concerns. Stick to eating your calories, and when you do need to curl up with a hot drink, make sure you DIY with natural ingredients.
7. Manage expectations.
Perfection isn’t the goal, at any holiday gathering. Yet stress is still a problem during the holidays, frequently triggering panic attacks around holidays. Don’t let the day get the best of you! Set your sights on an enjoyable time with family and friends, and let the little mishaps roll off your back.
8. Get some sleep!
Listen to your body. If you’d like to reduce your holiday stress, you’ve got to prioritize holiday sleep. According to a behavioral medicine journal, “Findings suggest that inadequate sleep confers vulnerability to poor cognitive, affective, and physiological responses to stress.” Get good sleep and you’ll be able to field burned dishes, family squabbles, and juggled schedules much better.
9. Keep moving.
Moderate exercise keeps your body functioning optimally. It doesn’t have to be much – somewhere between getting up to get a slice of pie and an afternoon shoveling the first blizzard by hand. Enjoy a family walk or bike ride, jog around the block while the turkey roasts, or practice a bit of yoga on Christmas morning to keep your body moving and heart pumping. Or, to really kick things up a notch and get your body in gear, practice high intensity interval training to help your body burn fat better as you enjoy holiday feasts.
10. Be grateful – truly.
Studies have suggested that being grateful is actually associated with better health. Taking the time to reflect on your gratitude – really focusing and meditating on it – on a regular basis changes your perspective and helps to alleviate stress.