Healthy(ish) cooking on a Budget(ish)

20 Tips to Stay Healthy, Wealthy, and Sane during the Holidays

20 Tips to Stay Healthy, Wealthy, and Sane during the Holidays

The holidays are stressful! Do any of these activities stress you out?

  • Traveling to family for the holidays
  • Hosting family for the holidays
  • Just seeing the family for the holidays
  • Cooking for everyone and accommodating all their needs
  • Eating all the prepared food
  • Black Friday & Christmas shopping
  • Being productive at work so that you can take vacation
  • The crowds everywhere!
  • All the parties that are on your calendar
  • And so many other stressors

Everyone gets stressed out at some point during the holidays! We also binge eat five pounds of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and max out all our credit cards while having at least one mental breakdown.

Just kidding. Maybe.

But good news!

I have 20 tips for on how to stay healthy, wealthy, and sane this holiday season! Even if you just take a few of them, I guarantee you that the holidays will go a little more smoother and you will have a great start on 2019.

Acorn Wreath with Bells

Staying Healthy during the Holidays

1. Don’t feel guilty

This is the most important tip I can give you! Thanksgiving and Christmas are 2 days out of 365 days in the year. So what is you don’t follow your diet or nutrition goals for two days? Allow yourself some guilty pleasures and you’ll enjoy the holidays a lot more. A few days of not-so-healthy food is not going to ruin you if you continue to eat healthy(ish) the rest of the time!

2. Healthy snacks

Which brings us to our next tip: don’t forget your healthy snacks! Holiday food is everywhere: at church, in the office, at home, at your neighbor’s house, everywhere! It’s hard to resist the temptation, especially when you are hungry. Keep some healthy snacks (such as these matcha chia balls) around the house or in your purse and reach for those when you are hungry and thinking about grabbing a few sugar cookies.

3. Don’t skip meals

Another common mistake that many of us make (I’m very guilty of this!) is skipping meals because you know there is going to be a feast later. Don’t do it! This contributes to binge eating and poor digestion as well as poor decisions about what to put on your plate. If you know there is going to be a large dinner later in the day, eat a light lunch and drink plenty of water so that you go into dinner with a normal appetite

4. Don’t drink all the drinks

Eggnog, pumpkin spice lattes, beers, wines, other holiday drinks- they all add up to empty calories. Enjoy a mug of eggnog or a glass of wine, but then swap it out for water. Water aids in digestion and is calorie free! And it doesn’t give you hangovers.

5. Bring/make healthy side dishes

Worried that there won’t be any healthy dishes on the dinner table? Take your own to share! Are you gluten intolerant or trying to avoid dairy? Make a dish or two that you know you can indulge on rather than feeling miserable during & after dinner. Maybe even try my stuffed acorn squash recipe!

6. Use smaller plates

There have been studies done to show that using smaller plates reduces your food consumption by 30%! It’s a great trick to play on your mind. Smaller plates fill up quicker with food and therefore you sit down and eat a smaller amount. Your brain thinks “Hey! I just ate a full plate of food, I’m probably full!” and you can enjoy the evening with a stomach that is 30% lighter.

7. Mindful eating

Make sure that you are enjoying your food! You only get this kind of food a few times a year. Slow eating allows for proper digestion and helps your mind catch up with your stomach. I found this great tip on Reddit while researching for this post:

I’ll try to make a rule that I’ll swallow and say something, have a sip of water, wipe my mouth, cut a piece of meat, or put down my fork between every bite. At the absolute minimum, I must finish and swallow my bite of food before reloading my fork with a small bite — no having a heavily loaded fork waiting while I’m still swallowing the bite of food from before! (Alternating bites of different foods on the plate helps.)

 8. Take time before seconds

Let your body digest your food before diving into seconds! Give it 15-20 minutes after finishing your plate and if you are still hungry, then help yourself! Chances are, you won’t be. Want more of Mom’s Cranberry Sauce? Save it for later! Grab some and stick it in the fridge for a midnight snack or for tomorrow

9. Join the gym

December is a crazy hectic month for everyone, but don’t let your fitness take a hit. Get a running start on your New Year’s Resolution and join the gym now! Already a member? Sign up for group fitness classes or get a friend to work out with you so you have a little accountability. You’ll feel so much better about that extra piece of pie when you know you worked out that day.

Staying Wealthy during the Holidays 

10. Keep presents simple

Yes, we’d all like a new car for Christmas. Most of us would love to buy someone else a new car for Christmas. But 90% of us don’t have the money for that. And that’s ok! Simple, meaningful gifts are nothing to scoff at. This year, the budget is a little tight for me so I’m planning on small, simple but unique gifts for the family that are easily packed in my carry-on or mailed economically. (Sorry Matt, you aren’t getting a sports car this year)

11. Keep a [small] gift list and just buy one!

Write down the names of all the people you’d like to give a gift to. This can be friends, family, coworkers, the mail man, or anyone else that you like. Then set a budget of how much you’re willing to spend total. Divide that up between the people on the list and see what happens. You are probably going to want to spend a little more money and your husband or best friend, that’s ok! People like your boss and the barista may be lower down on your list, think about simple gifts like baked goods, fancy chocolate, or even just a handwritten card. For most of us, the gesture is more important than the actual gift.

The second part of this list is to buy just one gift for each person and then cross them off your list. I love to buy gifts and would buy five for each person if I could, but knowing I have a budget and I already have a gift for the person usually stops me. You can always save that gift idea for a birthday or anniversary!

12. Give gift cards

Some people will state that gift cards are too impersonal. I disagree! Gift cards are amazing because they allow the recipient to buy whatever they like instead of faking happiness to get an ugly sweater that doesn’t even fit. And it allows you to stick to your set budget for that person! Worried about it seeming to impersonal? Write a nice handwritten note to go with it! Or buy a gift card for a place or experience you’d know the recipient would enjoy but wouldn’t spend the money there themselves.  Some examples: spas, restaurants, classes, specific stores, or even hotels and airline miles!

13. Plan out Black Friday

Black Friday (and Thursday and Cyber Monday and every other day in that timeframe it seems like) are a great time to get discounts of big ticket items like TVs, laptops, cameras, ect. But they are also a great time to spend a lot of money that you don’t need to! The best way to avoid this is to research the sales, figure out the best ones, and only buy what you went in for. Don’t throw an extra xbox in the cart because “it was so cheap!”. If you know this is going to be a struggle, ask someone to go with you or take only enough cash inside to pay for the product you went in for.

Staying Sane during the Holidays 

14. Plan your month out

Do this right now! Grab the calendar and right all your parties down, all the important deadlines, and anything else that is important for the next six weeks. Make sure you haven’t double booked yourself and check to make sure all the deadlines are feasible. Find out the days that you don’t have much scheduled and block them off! Don’t schedule anything for them. You’ll thank me later.

15. Say no!

You don’t need to attend every social event that you are invited to this year. You don’t need to commit to icing 300 cookies for the school play. Be picky about what you agree to!

16. Embrace Potluck dinners

Did you already agree to hosting Christmas dinner? Ask people to help! Most people are more than willing to bring a dish or two (or at least buy something on the way over). Potluck dinners are a great way to get a variety of dishes and cooking and allow everyone to have at least one dish they love. You can also ask those non-cookers to pitch in by bringing paper plates, napkins, or drinks! Not every Christmas dinner has to be Martha Stewart level.

 17. Sleep

Just like the gym, don’t let your sleep schedule take a hit during this season. Still aim for that 6-8 hours on a normal schedule! Sleep allows your body to recuperate from the day before and helps you fend of the winter sicknesses.

 18. Treat yourself

Are you on your Christmas gift list? You should be! Book yourself that spa treatment, buy yourself those new shoes, or just do something for yourself in the middle of all the craziness! Give more than you take, but don’t forget to take just a little bit for yourself.

19. Volunteer

Feeling down on yourself this season? Find an outlet to volunteer at! Soup kitchen, homeless shelter, Salvation Army, or anywhere that fits your values. It costs nothing but time and may help you feel a little joy in the season. I’m volunteering by helping with our church’s Giving Tree which allows me to help wrap and deliver gifts to children in the local hospitals and schools. This is a great way to help me give back AND allows me get my gift giving obsession out without spending money.

20. Remember the reason for the season

You may be Christian, you may be Muslim, you may even be Atheist. But chances are, your reason for the season isn’t “get fat, be broke, and have a month-long migraine”. Remember all the great things about the season: seeing family, celebrating with friends, starting off a new year, enjoying great food, sharing gifts, and whatever else brings you happiness this time of year. Take a few minutes every occasionally, remember those things, and try to smile through the lines at the store.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Have a great New Year!

20 Tips for Healthy Holidays

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