Did you go overboard on the pumpkin pie? We all have good intentions for a healthy holiday but sometimes they get wrecked? Maybe it starts with a cookie because Aunt Barb made them, and it would hurt her feelings if you turned down one of her famous cookies. Then dinner comes and you can’t resist the rolls, the potatoes and, before you know it, you’re feeling like the stuffed turkey. That doesn’t stop you though – you go for seconds of pie. After all this, how do you get your health back on track for the holidays?

It might seem impossible to get back on track with your healthy lifestyle during the holidays. Maybe you made it through successfully, but it wasn’t easy. Don’t dread the guilt of the holidays or think of your healthy lifestyle as holding you back. Be prepared. The best way to maintain your healthy lifestyle is to be prepared for the health and emotional obstacles that the holidays can bring. There are plenty.

Now I absolutely love Christmas and spreading cheer. It’s the best time of year. I’m also prepared. Our family lives a healthy lifestyle throughout the year and has built healthy traditions for every season. So, here are some tips to help get your health back on track as you start to build your own healthy traditions.

8 Tips to Get Your Health Back on Track for the Holidays

1) Don’t Give Up Because of One Choice

Don’t give up because of one bad choice or one bad day. It can be tempting but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. A healthy lifestyle is full of choices and just because you goofed up, don’t fall even further behind. Move forward with healthy choices. Don’t think of it as taking a break from your diet. Your body wants to be healthy and when you make choices that stress the body you move it away from health. So, if you made a bad choice, don’t beat yourself up. Just make better ones.

2) Find Healthy Treat Swaps

There will be plates of cookies and holiday advertising tempting you to indulge. It’s the season of treats that are full of sugars, inflammatory foods, and common allergens. There are few places that are safe from these indulgences. What treats will most tempt you this holiday season? Will you miss sitting by the fire drinking hot cocoa or filling the house with the smells of baked goods? Find swaps that will make it easier for you when you get tempted. Try some of our favorite dessert recipes like the sugar cookies or peppermint chocolate bark.

3) Plan Ahead

Planning ahead will make it easier to stay on course. Make some freezer meals so that when the holidays get busy you have an easy meal to grab that’s not fast food. When your body is craving food, it’s craving nutrients not just sugar and carbs. If you’re going to spend the holidays with friends and family, offer to bring a dish. Your friends and family won’t even realize they are eating healthy with some of our favorite recipes. Check out some of our recipes and our healthy holiday swaps.

4) Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water to make sure you are staying hydrated. You might be surprised to find out you weren’t hungry after all. You were just thirsty. Speaking of hydration – let’s talk about alcoholic beverages. Depending on where you are on your health journey you might have the occasional drink but don’t go overboard. Alcoholic beverages can be full of hidden calories and overdrinking can lead to overeating. Check out some of our cleaner alcohol suggestions.

5) Get Plenty of Sleep

There is so much excitement and so much to do around the holidays that it’s easy to skimp on sleep. Don’t stay up all night playing Santa because it can be damaging to your health. Your body heals when you sleep so it’s important to get rest and practice better sleep habits. Research has also shown that lack of sleep may lead to unhealthy diet and overeating. Not getting enough rest can lead to a hormonal imbalance and stress that makes it harder to eat healthy.

6) Stay Active

Don’t just go from the table to the couch. Get moving to help with digestion, detoxify, and stay active throughout the holiday season. Take a walk, go play football, or find a sledding hill. Make a plan for ways you can incorporate a little exercise into your day every day. That means even on the holidays. Short on time? Try mini-workouts or making exercise the first thing you do every morning. Getting active will help you feel better about yourself while building your best, healthy life.

7) Reduce Stress and Remember Your Priorities

The busy holidays bring lots of emotions and stress which can lead to unhealthy, stress eating. Take care of yourself and find ways to reduce stress. Unhealthy eats aren’t the only way you can treat yourself this holiday season. Find time for a peppermint massage or relaxing bath. There will be lots on your to-do list and many holiday commitments but focus on your priorities. You can’t say yes to everything, and if it doesn’t support your priorities, then why are you doing it?

8) Focus on the Cheer

Keep your mind on the positive and the spirit of the season like spending time with those you love and the memories you are building. Don’t think about what you can’t have so much that you miss the twinkle of Christmas lights or the opportunity to catch a kiss under the mistletoe.

Be Healthy and Be Merry

Between now and the end of the holidays, you have a number of opportunities to choose health. Every meal and every activity either builds your healthy lifestyle or chips away at it. It might seem hard to be healthy during the holidays but if you’re prepared it’s much easier. So, get your health back on track for the holidays and keep it on track. It’s much easier to be merry if you’re healthy!

Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn