My sister and I were talking about how to make this Holiday Survival Guide: Nutrition Edition short and sweet but applicable to our lives RIGHT NOW, amid the hustle, bustle, wrapping, and eating.

Last week I started reflecting on what I’ve been doing since Thanksgiving to nourish my body, rather than just stuff it with goodies. I’m still working off the rest of my baby weight, so one of my goals this December was to not put any weight back on.

This time of year makes it extra difficult because I LOVE FOOD, so I have to be extra careful to be intentional with my choices during a season that seems to revolve around food. BUT, the season doesn’t revolve around food. For followers of Jesus, the Christmas holiday revolves around Jesus. When Jesus is my focus, peace floods my heart and mind and it gets easier to make better choices.

The result of making good choices affects EVERYTHING and everyone around me. When I eat better, my mood is better, I’m physically healthier, and most notably, I have more energy, yes, even with a 5-month-old infant who doesn’t sleep well at night.

I hope these suggestions help you to feel your best as this holiday season ends and we welcome in a New Year.

Eat mindfully: This is so enjoyable and simple, but it takes reminders to actually do it. Slow down, COUNT how many times you chew a bite, enjoy the tastes and textures of your food, and give thanks. Read this article for a fun exercise on mindful eating.

Limit sweets when not at a gathering— if you know you’re going to indulge in a little something sweet at a holiday party or festive gathering, avoid the urge to splurge at home! Instead, load up on veggies and protein to help keep your blood sugar stable and your calorie intake in check.

Drink waterhalf of your ideal body weight in ounces every day. “In addition to boosting your metabolism, water is also responsible for bringing nutrients into and removing waste from every cell. Water also aids in digestion, balances body fluids, helps you feel full, keeps your muscles energized, keeps your skin elastic, and flushes your kidneys and liver.” Living Wellness for Growth Groups

Make eating healthy convenient: When you buy or make a veggie tray for a party, buy or make an extra for at home. My family eats so many more vegetables when I have a leftover veggie tray in the fridge—it’s like all of a sudden, they enjoy broccoli and celery! So, I’ve been cutting up the extra veggies and putting them in clear glass containers and trays to snack on in between meals. When I have a hodgepodge of extras, I make them all into a soup or stir fry!

Avoid late night snacking: This is what really sneaks on the pounds and keeps you from getting your next night’s sleep. Check out this funny VIDEO from the Living Wellness Video Series if you need a reminder to close the kitchen after dinner. 

Eat foods to boost your immune system: Fermented foods fill your gut with healthy bacteria and help you fight off everything from the common cold to the flu. You can get the recommended 3 servings of fermented foods by eating:

  • Yogurt for breakfast
  • Apple cider vinegar on a salad with lunch
  • Pickle with dinner

Voila! You’ve got 3 servings of gut-boosting foods to super-charge your immune system and optimally digest and absorb your food. 

Eat protein and/or fat at every meal to keep you satisfied longer:

When you reach for:

  • An orange, add a small handful of almonds.
  • Celery, add some nut or peanut butter.
  • Red pepper slices, add hummus or guacamole for a delicious snack (use the pepper like a chip). 

Move your body—I know that isn’t’ a nutrition tip, but on the days I exercise I seem to make much better food choices and I feel and sleep better.

My prayer for you this season is that you don’t get caught up in a bunch of rules to be healthier as you approach the New Year. Rather, my hope is that you’ll see the gift of your body as just that—a gift! We have a daily opportunity to steward the gift of our bodies joyfully and healthfully.

Regardless of how you’ve done so far, let’s take the remainder of this year and next to live out and celebrate the healthiest version of ourselves!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays to ALL!