While we generally associate the festive season with fun, friends, family and good food, for many it’s a time of stress, unhealthy eating and unpredictability. We’re here to bring a little stability to the holidays with our simple hacks to have you feeling healthy, eating healthy and living healthy – even during the most indulgent and hectic season of the year.
Swap processed food out for homemade meals
If you’re at a Chrissy party, to ensure you’re not getting slipped any unexpected doses of added sugars and preservatives, your best bet is to go for the salads, homemade veggie or pasta bakes, fruit salads and cheese platters. Store-bought dishes or frozen meals are often loaded with excess salt and sugar, as are supermarket cakes and confectionery – often you won’t even know what the ingredients are, just that’s they’re about a mile long. You might even find the healthier, homemade stuff is cheaper too – after all, you might go through a lot of food with friends, family and extended relatives to feed.
Contrary to popular belief, buying healthier foods can be cheaper than their highly-processed counterparts. This is because they’re usually available in larger portions, with some tripling in size when cooked – including whole grains like rice, quinoa and oats. These foods also require less processing, making them cheaper when bought in bulk. There’s a reason whole blocks of cheese are cheaper than the pre-grated ones – it’s an extra step of processing, and often preservatives are added in too.
Get some light exercise after a big meal
If you’ve just wolfed down a sizeable Christmas lunch, your first instinct may be to sleep it off – but fight the urge! Instead, consider taking your friends and family out for a slow, gentle walk around the block. Research shows that a bit of light exercise after a meal can prevent a blood sugar spike – and this is because our blood sugars tend to spike around 60 to 90 minutes after eating, so getting our bodies movies soon after eating is the best time to counter the sugars. While a short 2 to 5-minute walk after a meal can lower glucose levels by 9.5%, it’s worth noting our dietary choices still put us at risk for a range of metabolic diseases, so it’s important to prioritise healthy, whole foods over the ultra-processed stuff, even if you’re exercising on the regular! On another note, exercising doesn’t just have physical benefits, but mental ones too. The American Psychological Association revealed that that just 5 minutes of exercise can boost our mood and overall mental health – and with the stress that comes with the festivities, some of us are going to need it.
Forget about counting calories
You might be stressing about eating more during all the Christmas and New Year’s festivities this holiday season, but engaging in calorie counting can often increase stress and anxieties around eating – after all, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the foods you love and having a treat every now and again. Moderation is key and we’re not about restriction here at I Quit Sugar – but you can maintain healthy habits without stressing about each bite of food. Plus, it’s can be harder to get motivated when you’re worrying about adding up calories, potentially leading to guilt, shame and stress, and considering many of us already have deep-rooted associations of these feelings with food, it can make the emotional issues harder to manage and treat. We believe in looking at food as nutrition, nourishment and our key to a healthy life, rather than something shameful or to feel guilty about.
Keep your sleep habits consistent
With all the events and gatherings around the holiday season, you’re likely booked out and stretched for time – but there’s one thing you won’t want to sacrifice, and that’s sleep. Quality sleep is essential for your physical and mental health, and having a routine in place helps you ensure you get those 7-9 hours a night, along with healthful, regenerative sleep. That’s right, not just any sleep is good enough – quality sleep is measured by a lack of interruptions mid-sleep, along with cool temperatures and darkness.
You’ll also want to limit blue light exposure, if you’re used to working or watching videos right up until you head to bed, your sleep is likely suffering. It’s essential to have a consistent structure in order to manage your sleep-wake cycles that influence everything from your energy levels to appetite. Plus, a consistent schedule will also help reduce stress levels, which supports healthy sleep patterns into the future – after all, stress is the biggest culprits when it comes to keeping us awake! Here’s what you’ll need to maintain great sleep habits during the holiday season:
- Pick a time to start you sleep schedule every night
- Enjoy some calming activities like reading, meditating or stretching
- Ensure you leave enough time to have 7 hours sleep
- Ensure you have a quiet and dark area to sleep in
Find healthy alternatives to old favourites
You can still enjoy all those nostalgic festive foods, from roasts and bakes to cakes, cocktails and snacks this holiday season – that’s what we’re here for! In fact, we released our Holiday Entertaining Guidefor this very purpose. It’s loaded with recipes for delicious desserts and comforting, traditional meals to line the table with for all your upcoming events and functions. So, you can maintain your healthy habits and still enjoy mouth-watering food at the same time. We swear, they’re not mutually exclusive!
Check out our eBook HERE. It’s loaded with 51 fun recipes that transport you back to those childhood family feasts – minus the sugar crash, of course! We've got mains, sides, desserts and festive drinks to mark the occasion.
If you’ve been having a little trouble keeping that sugar addiction at bay, we’re here to help. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. Join us for the 8-Week Program where we’ll be quitting sugar and turning our health dreams into a reality. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists
- 90+ member-only recipes
- Community forums to share your journey
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to JOIN NOW!