We all love those few days in the year when you get to celebrate a special day, surrounded by good food and loved ones. Since spending quality time surrounded by people you love is already beneficial to your health, why not turn family get togethers into a chance to build healthy habits -- together!
While that might sound like a hassle, especially if you have kids who seem to protest anything healthy, creating some healthy rituals for your holiday get-togethers can be hugely beneficial for your overall health, as well as be a great bonding experience for the entire family.
Take a look at our list of healthy habits you can build over any holidays and who knows, you might just have fun doing them.
1. Make sure to balance healthy vs less healthy foods
We all have our favorite (un)healthy foods and holiday staples -- for some of us it might just be something we’re very much looking forward to (looking at you hot cross buns!). That’s why sometimes it can be hard to avoid going all out and cooking up the feast of feasts. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you have balance! Try to even out how much healthy vs. less healthy foods you have on the dinner table, which means fried or greasy foods. Don’t be afraid to change up the menu from what you usually eat at family gatherings -- include those few favorites and try out some new additions such as some hummus and celery or carrots.
2. Think of an activity everyone can participate in (Plan a scavenger hunt!)
Sure, it’s always recommended to keep up with your regular fitness routine, even during the holidays. If you’re used to waking up early and squeezing in some morning yoga, and you’re able to squeeze it in even during the holidays (without having to sacrifice sleep) then by all means -- keep at it! However, a great way to make sure you stay active while spending time with family is to come up with a fun activity you all can participate in! It could just be a good walk in nature, as a recent study has proven a 20 minute walk in nature can lower your stress by over 10%. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can put your creative hats on and try and make the activity themed to the holiday -- it can even become your new holiday ritual! For example, if you celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday, you can create a fun scavenger hunt! It can be a traditional egg hunt, where you hide eggs around the house (or garden) and compete on who will find the most. OR maybe you can hide little notes with clues that will bring you closer to the ‘main prize’. You don’t have to limit yourself to the house -- you can tie (hide) a little note to a bench that has some significance to your family or find a way to hide it around your kids school. Just make sure everyone can get in on the guessing game and it can be a fun family adventure!
3. Remember to drink water.
You might find yourself sighing and thinking ‘Ugh, Bellabeat, here you go again with the water.’ and to that we say -- YES, again with the water! See how often hydration pops up on our lists? That just goes to show that water is absolutely vital to any area of health and it won’t be easy to reach your overall well-being without a good hydration habit. By that we mean not just drinking enough water to survive and not get dehydrated, but drinking a good amount for it to benefit your health. When it comes to holidays, with all the food and alcoholic beverages you might be serving -- like that delish bottle of wine you can’t wait to open -- it could be easy to forget to stay hydrated. Not getting enough water in might cause you to feel tired and listless the next day or give you a migraine during some fun family time. Make sure you have enough water served on your dinner table.
4. Make some natural juice options as beverages
Another healthy alternative to staying hydrated is making some fresh juices. Pick some of your favorite, or your kids favorite, fruits and squeeze them into some delicious goodness. Your kids will love a sweet alternative to water and you’ll remove all the unhealthy additives that are put into store-bought juices. Plus, it’s a great vitamin bomb for everyone who you’ll invite over -- especially for this Seasonal transition period where the weather fluctuates and your immune system can use all the help it can get!
5. Try to build a doable schedule (or ask for help!)
Don’t overwhelm yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re planning a big family & friends get-together, why not invite your mom, sister or friend to help out with the preparations? Heck, don’t forget to get the men involved too! Women aren’t the only ones that can cook -- if you can eat it, you can make it! Or if you don’t trust the men in your circle with a frying pan and oven, you can delegate the chopping and peeling to them! Play some fun music, pour a glass of wine, and try to make the food prepping a part of the holiday fun instead of the holiday madness! If you decide to go at it alone, you’ll probably need to make a schedule of how much time you can dedicate to each dish -- but make sure the schedule is realistic and doable. Don’t make the deadlines too short by telling yourself you can make it if you hurry. If you overwhelm yourself with the meal prep, at the end you’ll be exhausted, cranky and probably won’t enjoy the rest of the festivities as much.
6. Don’t forget to get enough sleep
When any holidays, or special days, come a-knockin’ we’re always tempted to change our schedule up a bit and wake up earlier in the day so that we can get everything done on time. Which is a valid reason, but sleep shouldn’t be the thing that suffers. If you’ll wake up early, make sure you go to sleep that much earlier the night before. Lack of sleep can turn any fun holiday into a grumpy get-together. When you’re sleep deprived and with family, you might not be able to stay quiet to your 65 year old uncle’s misogynistic provocation, or you might end up lacking energy for other family activities. All in all, missing sleep might seem like a win situation for the holiday rush, but ultimately it will cost you more than you will gain.
7. Disconnect & create a screen-free weekend!
Our final tidbit of wisdom might be one of the most important on the list -- disconnect! Prepare a box or bag where everyone can place their phones (or other devices) in during diner and family time. It helps you reconnect as a family as well as limit screen time for the day, something we could all do with less of. If it’s possible, you can even make it a completely screen-free weekend! No TV, no phones, no gaming devices. You can spend quality family time playing board games (any kind of games really!), or spending time in nature. You’ll notice how refreshed you feel after spending some time away from the unavoidable screens of modern life.