The holidays are fast approaching! It is around this time that I tend to get swept up into making holiday plans and starting to feel the stresses and burdens of what should be a joyful season. I just mailed my Christmas cards, which made me pretty proud, which seems like somewhat of a small task in the grand scheme of things. Small tasks like mailing out holiday cards can seem like daunting tasks when added to the busy mix of holiday and regular tasks during this time of year. I have decided to not give in to these feelings of stress and anxiety this year. It is time to put the joy back into the season and stay in control!
Now is the perfect time to make plans for yourself and stick to them for your mental and physical health this time of year. First, plan to not overeat at holiday meals and get togethers. Form new traditions by offering healthier side dishes and main entrees to traditional options that might be high in fat, sugar, and calories, and smaller portions. No more post-meal food coma.
Image credit: Aura Avenue
Second, stay active. I live in Virginia and winters tend to be cold. But, I still find time to be active in the colder temperatures by engaging in winter time hiking or skiing – if there is enough snow. Perhaps dust off that gym membership you pay for monthly and take your workouts indoors. Many gyms offer fun and interesting classes like Spin, Zumba, Body Pump, and Yoqua (Yoga in a heated pool). Or you can bundle up and take walks to view the beautiful holiday light displays that are popular during this time. One of my favorite traditions is checking out the neighborhood lights by bike with a group of friends around our local neighborhoods. Take time for yourself during the planning of family trips. Continue to do the things you like to do and don’t forget to set aside time to relax to prepare for the holidays.
Third, set a holiday budget to avoid overspending. Do people really remember what they receive for Christmas? Maybe, but I always remember the fond memories of spending time with the people I love and not necessarily the things I receive. Work on forming new traditions of giving handmade gifts, make charitable donations, or frozen homemade, healthy meal options to enjoy after the busy holidays are over. You can also streamline things and purchase gift cards to allow friends and family to make their gift purchases after the holidays. Or choose to go on a trip with family and friends and forgo gifts all together. My husband and I are taking a trip to South America this year to celebrate the holidays as a small family unit. We are not giving each other gifts since we are taking a big trip.
Image credit: Girl on the Move
Also, it is ok to have a smaller holiday celebration and avoid the big family get togethers if it puts too much stress on you and your family. Everyone needs a break and your family should understand your needs. I see the holiday anxiety starting to develop in many people I counsel on a daily basis and I remind them that they can be in control of how they plan and participate in the holidays. I am a firm believer in preparing for situations that you may struggle with, particularly situations involving food.
- Plan to check out what food is being offered before you make firm decisions on what you put on your plate and choose a smaller plate for portion control.
- Choose water or unsweetened drinks and avoid alcohol to limit added calories.
- If you love holiday desserts, indulge, but do it modestly. Avoid candy that tends to circulate work places and hold out for a small slice of a homemade treat and plan to take a smaller portion of these items.
- If you are the one doing the preparing, cut portions in half of what you would normally offer for particular dessert items. Most people want smaller portions of these items, but they don’t always offer their opinion.
I know it can be difficult to not get wrapped up in traditions and expectations for the busy holiday season. Sit down and make some plans this year that work for you and your family. Choose a healthier holiday season above all!
To help you with preparation, I have given you an example of a portion controlled modest dessert option and an easy homemade gift item to share with your friends and family below!
Have a happy and healthy holiday season!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 35 minutes
- 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
- ½ cup chopped assorted nuts (I like pecans , walnuts, or salted almonds)
- Optional: try adding dried cranberries or cherries for added flavor or texture
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. (Take care to avoid wrinkles.)
- Combine melted chocolate and nuts in a medium bowl. Scrape the mixture onto the foil and spread it into an approximate 12-by-9-inch rectangle.
- Sprinkle with additional finely chopped nuts, if desired. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the bark and foil to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1½-inch pieces.
Make Ahead Tip: Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Serving size: 1 piece (1½-inches)
Per serving: 74 calories; 5 g fat(2 g sat); 1 g fiber; 7 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 5 mcg folate;0 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 5 g added sugars; 0 IU vitamin A; 0 mg vitamin C; 10 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 1 mg sodium; 67 mg potassium
Carbohydrate Servings: ½
Exchanges: ½ other carbohydrate, 1 fat
Image credit: Lululemon Athletica
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 5 minutes
Spice Rubs can be expensive to buy in store, but they make great gifts! Try making your own unique concoctions this year as stocking stuffers!
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds 6 tablespoons dried basil
- 3 tablespoons garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
Grind fennel seeds in a spice grinder (such as a clean coffee grinder) or a mortar and pestle until coarsely ground. Combine with basil, garlic powder, salt, rosemary and oregano in a small bowl.
Make Ahead Tip: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.
Serving size: 1 teaspoon
Per serving: 5 calories; 0 g fat(0 g sat); 0 g fiber; 1 g carbohydrates; 0 g protein; 3 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 0 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 13 IU vitamin A; 0 mg vitamin C; 19 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 211 mg sodium; 25 mg potassium
Post by Lemma