The holidays are a special time of year filled with family, friends, and seasonal treats. Here are a few tips on enjoying the holidays in a balanced way:

Fill up on the Word of God

When our spirit is nourished and satisfied, we are so much less likely to fall victim to filling up on things that will never truly satisfy. I encourage you to begin each day with prayer and worship. A healthy spirit leads the way for a healthy body!

If you’re not sure where to begin, the Psalms are a wonderful place to go. The Psalms are filled with declaration and praise for who God is and how He loves us. Simply praying the words of the Psalms is a powerful way to really express to the Lord how thankful you are for His blessings!

Exercise

After spending time with the Lord, I like to make time to exercise early in the day. I find when I purposely move my body and care for it first thing in the morning, I tend to make better choices the rest of the day.

Whether you head out for a run or walk, or join a class at your gym, getting some exercise around the holidays is always a great way to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle!

Have a Snack Before Gatherings

I have heard far too many people express that they starve themselves leading up to a holiday gathering in order to save “room” for the meal. The problem with restricting ourselves all day is that it can cause us to become overly hungry, which leads to over eating.

I have found that a much healthier and successful approach is to eat as I normally would leading up to the meal. By enjoying a healthy breakfast and lunch you will find that you sit down at the dinner table and actually enjoy the meal, as well as be in tune with your body’s natural hunger cues.

You Don’t Have to Go Overboard

Interestingly, most people accept the assumption that holidays are a time to overindulge. In reality, the holidays can be completely enjoyed without the need to severely overeat. Instead of going into the season with a mindset of defeat, approach them with a balanced approach.

Make the decision ahead of time to be mindful of portions (try to choose portion sizes similar to those you normally would), and sit down and truly enjoy your food. When you sense that you are approaching satisfaction, begin to slow down and stop eating when you’re full. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you!

Only Choose What’s Really Important to You

We all have those certain foods that make the holidays special. For me, it is my mom’s snowball cookies. I know they are full of butter and sugar, but they are important to me so I choose to enjoy one or two of them. On the other hand, I don’t really care too much about ham, mashed potatoes or Christmas cookies with icing, so I skip those and make a healthier choice.

My point is this: It’s helpful to get in the habit of evaluating your food options and only choosing the things that are really important to you. Fully enjoy eating those foods that feel special and satisfying to you, and let the other options pass you by.

Be Present and Thankful

Food is certainly a big part of holidays but remember that it’s just one part. This year, instead of making food the focus, I would challenge you to be present and notice all of the other blessings in your life. From relationships to health, there are so many things that we can each find to be thankful for. 

When we allow food to cloud our ability to be present and thankful, we know that we are giving food far more power than it was ever intended to have. Enjoy the day. Don’t rehash what or how much you ate. Be present, enjoy your meal and enjoy your blessings.

Get Right Back to Normal

I find that so many people go to extremes after events like holidays and commit themselves to restrictive diets or resolve to follow some type of extreme diet plan. They say things like, “Tomorrow I’m back on my diet.” My encouragement to you is to get in the habit of removing those types of thoughts, words and phrases from your speech and instead, simply return to “normal” after extraordinary circumstances.

Life provides so many wonderful celebrations where we enjoy foods and beverages we might not normally. The healthiest approach is to give thanks for these times and then simply return to normal behaviors. No extremes, no diets, no regrets. You simply re-choose a normal, healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Learning how to quickly return to normal without going to extremes after enjoy the extraordinary times of life like holidays, weddings and vacations is a huge step toward true freedom when it comes to eating.

Have a Plan for Leftovers

My final tip is one of my favorites! Have a healthy plan ahead of time for how to handle leftovers. If you’re anything like me, I often have a lot of extra food in my house around the holidays thanks to leftovers. One of the most successful things I’ve learned to do is to send leftovers home with guests, and keep a few healthy choices in my fridge as staples.

For instance, I usually keep plenty of turkey since it’s lean and can be used in countless recipes and healthy dishes, but I send the leftover mashed potatoes and pie home with friends and family; That way I don’t have it in my house as a lingering temptation.

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