During the onset of winter and throughout the holidays most of us give up on healthy eating and give in to putting on a few extra pounds. That’s all good and well: eat and be merry! At any rate, here’s a few tips to minimize the holiday “15”:

1. Move everyday

At this time of year, many of us have busy schedules and inevitably our fitness routines derail at some point. The important thing is to constantly look for opportunities for movement – every day – even if it isn’t going to the gym. Take the dog for a walk, maybe two, have a walking meeting, park in the parkade further away from your office, schedule a family walk on Christmas day in between all the eating, bike to your next appointment, do 15 minutes of yoga or a 12 minute HIIT in your living room before you meet friends for dinner. It all adds up and it doesn’t necessarily have to involve the gym (although resistance training has many great benefits and is an integral part of a cross training regime).

2. Break the digital envy cycle

A recent UBC study found that people become envious of their friends and their awesome Facebook photos. They, in turn, post awesome photos of themselves to prove they are also living awesome lives. This season – and throughout the New Year – be happy for others on their adventures. Take a social media break and LIVE your own life. Maybe even leave your phone at home and avoid taking photos. I know, this can be a hard one, but you might find you are able to live more fully in that moment when you do.

3. Go Outside

Go up to one of the local North Shore mountains, hang out in the snow. It’s beautiful, peaceful and rejuvenating up there.

4. Survive holiday parties without feeling like you put on 10 lbs

Is there such a thing? Okay, here’s the deal, I am going to give you a few tips to help mitigate over-eating at parties, and then I am going to give seemingly contradictory advice telling you to just enjoy your food. Here it goes:

  • Plan to move before going to your party – walk, run, gym, whatever. Your body metabolizes sugars better after a workout.
  • If your holiday party is mostly an appie party, use a plate, put your appies on it, and eat it like it is a meal. This way you know how much you have eaten, and you will avoid over-eating by grazing all night.
  • If it is potluck-style, bring a healthy platter–veggies and homemade hummus, a warm salad, or these super cute Grinch kebobs.

grinch kebobs

  • If you are the hostess, try to offer as many healthy options as possible, limiting the cheese and crackers and nachos options. Think Mediterranean and Paleo: veggie platters, olives, nuts, meat balls, shrimp kebobs.
  • If it is a sit down meal, or if it is Christmas dinner, follow the Ideal Dinner Plate rule in the image below. (Half veggies, quarter starchy carbohydrates, quarter lean protein.)
  • Walk to and from your party, or make a point of taking the dog out before you go to bed.

Ok, and now here is the seemingly contradictory advice, (although it isn’t really); if and when you eat a treat or Christmas cookie or something salty in a puff pastry, which you likely will, make sure it is delicious. Choose the sweet or salty treat options that will be most amazing. Sit down and eat it in a relaxed fashion. Eat slowly. Take the time to notice how it tastes in your mouth. Eat it mindfully.

(If you have never done a mindful-eating experiment, sit down one-on-one with a raisin, and eat it super slowly, by yourself, close your eyes, and notice the difference when you engage all your senses to eat.)

The bottom line; healthy eating habits are about balance, and eating mindfully doesn’t always mean avoiding the foods you love, but rather it means making love to those foods when you do eat them; eat them slowly, love them, enjoy them, and you might notice you can enjoy them in smaller quantities because you feel more satisfied. In life, we ought to cultivate healthy habits, but our habits also need balance, and mindful eating plays an important role in striking that balance.

5. Finally, have fun!

Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, put on Christmas music, light the fire, decorate the tree, sing out loud, have a holiday drink. Nourish your body and mind. Make memories.