The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year with sweaters, snow, decorating, shopping, lights, spending time with family and friends, and the list goes on. But with that wonderful can come lots of stress and temptation at every turn. Is it possible to be successful on the SHAPE Program while also enjoying the holidays? We can assure you that, yes, it is possible!
Here are 18 tips for a healthy holiday on the SHAPE Program:
1. Prepare by visualizing yourself passing on non-approved foods. Ponder about how you feel. Disappointed? Longing? Empowered? Confident? Write these thoughts and feelings down and allow this to help you know how to navigate these emotions when faced with temptation.
2. Think about what your biggest temptations will be and make a plan. Is it the stress of being around lots of people? Traveling? Is it Grandma’s fudge and cookies? Do you tend to eat or drink more on the holidays? When you have some answers to these questions, you’ll be able to put a plan in place.
3. Make and/or bring a SHAPE-approved dish to a party or gathering. There will likely be other guests trying to stay healthy during the holidays who will appreciate having some healthy options.
4. Try SHAPE-approved substitutes or introduce a new dish to your traditional holiday meal. We have a Holiday category on our SHAPE Recipes page to inspire you to make healthy choices this holiday season.
5. Tell others you are "in training" to live a healthier lifestyle when offered non-approved foods. Share your experience and teach them about what the SHAPE Program has done for you.
6. Sip hot tea at dessert time. Try festive flavors like chai or peppermint. Peppermint tea is a great option because it helps with digestion, alleviates headaches and helps suppress appetite.
7. Stick to anti-inflammatory food options as much as possible. There are a lot of things not on Phase I: Fast Track Cleanse that still keep inflammation down like sweet potatoes, most fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts and seeds (if you are on Phase I: Basic Cleanse, many of these are already included). This will make jumping back into the program much easier and keep you feeling healthy.
8. Limit the number of days if you choose to eat non-approved foods. Enjoy your meals and/or desserts, but don’t continue to indulge for several days or weeks.
9. Pick one or two of your favorite dishes and put half (or less) than you normally would on your plate. This way you can enjoy without overindulging or feeling sick. When you finish, wait 10 minutes before going back for more. You may find you are satisfied with less.
10. Ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” Think about the consequences, positive and negative, of eating inflammatory foods. Is it worth feeling sick or bloated? Regretful or disappointed? Maybe yes, maybe not, but decide before the meal or event and make choices accordingly. Say “no” to the foods you don’t really love so you can say “yes” to the foods you love and enjoy the most.
11. If you bake something for an event, give ALL of it away. Most people love receiving homemade treats. If you receive treats as gifts, consider dropping them by a homeless shelter, fire station, hospital or police department.
12. Be present. Rather than eating everything in sight, slow down and pay attention to what you’re eating, how it tastes, what you love about it and how it makes you feel physically and emotionally. This is an excellent opportunity to practice mindfulness, which is vital to long-term health.
13. Focus on your family, friends and even strangers. Spend time talking, asking questions, getting to know others better, offering love and support if they’re going through a hard time. The holidays are about so much more than food.
14. Start new traditions that don’t involve food. Instead of a cookie exchange, try an ornament or book exchange. Instead of desserts after the meal, play games, do a puzzle, make a craft or volunteer. Check out some other great ideas here.
15. As you prepare to host guests, turn chores into exercise. Put on your favorite holiday music and dance while cooking, vacuum with vigor and park far away from the store so you have an opportunity to do more walking.
16. Find accountability partners and check in with each other throughout the season. You likely have friends or family members who are following the SHAPE Program or a similarly healthy lifestyle. Having someone to talk to can be helpful for you and for them.
17. Get as much rest as you can. This includes sufficient sleep and/or alone time according to your personal needs.
18. Do your best to avoid stress and get creative. If possible, consider going away for the holidays or do something else that reduces the stress that is usually associated with this time of year.
You may not be able to do everything on this list, but pick a few that will work with your personality and holiday traditions. You can make healthy choices and start the new year as a healthier you with a little preparation, planning and commitment. Think of how great you’ll feel and how much more present you’ll be when you mindfully make healthy choices!
Check out our SHAPE Certified Holiday Recipes for support and inspiration.