By: Erin Kukura, MS, RD
UCSD Recreation Dietitian
The holidays are a stressful time and this year is no different with the addition of COVID-19. Here are a few tips to stay healthy for the holidays:
- Try to keep some normalcy to your routine, including sleep, movement, eating habits. It can be easy to forgo these things, but they are essential to proper energy and improving mood.
- Avoid deprivation of food
- It’s all to common to wait all day to eat until your holiday meal, but this usually results in overeating behaviors and highly uncomfortable fullness. Instead, aim to eat normally, eat breakfast and a light lunch so you don’t go into that meal so ravenous.
- It’s also common to forgo normal eating patterns during this time and anticipate deprivation come January 1stwhen you plan to “start fresh.” However, your body internalizes that sense of upcoming deprivation and can actually lead to feeling more out of control around food. Instead, remove food rules, and avoid shame or guilt around food choices.
- Food at the holidays should be enjoyed, it is intertwined with cultural and religious traditions and memories and is an important part of the holiday itself.
- Allow yourself permission to enjoy and savor foods that we often only eat at this time of year.
- Mindful eating practices are also a great way to practice this and to really savor the food.
- Likewise give yourself permission to say no. Holidays can also be a time of lots of food options and family members offering foods. Remember that you don’t have to eat to please someone else. Eat what you want, and honor your body when you are full or do not want to have something, for example you can say, “That looks delicious but I’m so full right now. Can I save some for later?”
- Remember that eating throughout the day and incorporating fruits and vegetables typically helps us to feel more energized.
- Work on stress relief make sure you have activities and resources to mange stress this time of year (yoga, calling a friend, appointment with a therapist, painting, taking pictures…)
- Start new traditions this year + think about what you actually enjoy about the holidays. This year is going to look different, but maybe that also means less things we feel obligated to do. Write a list of what activities you want to experience this holiday season (cooking a favorite meal with your family member, baking sugar cookies, watching holiday movies, getaway to the snow…)
- Gratitude list
- Although this year may look different we can still make connections with family whether that’s virtual holiday meals or gatherings.