6 Ways to Indulge in Moderation This Holiday Season

December is a busy time for most of us: our calendars are jam-packed with visiting loved ones, hosting family get-togethers, ringing in the new year, and attending the numerous social events that happen over the holidays. Inevitably, this time of year can feel stressful.

Whether we’re soothing our anxiety or getting into the festive spirit, food and alcohol normally take a huge toll on us during and after the holidays. But you don’t have to deprive yourself of all the holiday treats and ramp up your exercise routine to stay healthy. With proper planning and a little extra diligence, you can remain in balance this holiday season by following these six tips on how to indulge in moderation:

1. Plan ahead

If you know there’s a party coming up over the weekend, concentrate on eating well the week leading up to it. This is when meal prepping comes in handy; you’ll be less likely to fill up on shortbread and wine for dinner if you have a fridge stocked with a few go-to, healthy meals. I recommend batch-cooking a couple nourishing soups to put in the freezer, and making some healthy energy balls as easy snack options.

2. Keep your digestive system happy

Avoid feeling bloated, heavy and lethargic by optimizing your digestion. I recommend drinking hot water with lemon first thing in the morning, sipping on water or herbal tea during the day, and taking your digestive enzymes and probioticsbefore overindulging at that holiday party.

3. Don’t Go Hungry!

Hunger can make us grab whatever food is convenient, and around the holidays, we’re normally surrounded with temptations. Be prepared; have healthy snacks on hand such as trail mix, a healthy granola bar, or those energy balls you made earlier that week bar to starve off mid-day hunger. If you are going to a holiday party, ensure you have a snack before heading out the door to avoid gorging on the sausage rolls or cookie platter upon your arrival!

4. Give your baked goods a makeover.

Everyone loves holiday cookies and pies, but consider experimenting with healthier recipes and ingredient modifications. Try gluten-free flour, substituting sugar with bananas or applesauce (I often even cut the amount of sugar in half when baking) or adding oats and nuts to make the goods feel more filling, which can reduce the urge to overeat later.

5. Take your vitamins

When our bodies lack certain nutrients, it can induce cravings, which make us overeat. Extra stress during the holidays can cause us to use up nutrients more rapidly; so extra anti-stress vitamins and minerals are great to provide overall support.

I recommend taking B vitamins to help regulate mood and improve emotional well-being. Botanical herbs such as Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Holy Basil as well as GABA and L-Theanine can help fight fatigue leading to those carb cravings, reduce the levels of stress hormones circulating in the body, enhance mental and physical performance, and increase the body’s ability to cope with stress.

6. Keep up with your exercise!

During periods of stress, exercise can alter your body chemistry to calm and soothe upset nerves. Even though the holiday season can be a difficult time to keep up an exercise routine, try working out first thing in the morning or plan family activities such as walking in one of our beautiful local parks.

Wishing you all a very joyful and healthy holiday season!

Dr. Marita Schauch, ND