It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but it’s also the most difficult time for your clients to stay on track with their health goals. Temptation is everywhere. From sugary treats, holiday cocktails, and the stress of too many commitments, it’s hard to stay focused on good habits and good health during the last few months of the year. However, with some planning and encouragement from you, they will enter the new year feeling better than ever.
Here are seven tips to share with your clients to help them stay committed to their health (both mental and physical) this holiday season:
1. Practice mindfulness
Healthy food choices don’t have to equal deprivation. Your clients can still enjoy traditional holiday meals and even desserts. The key to mindful eating is making sure the act of eating has your full attention. Encourage your clients to take deep breaths in between meals. With each bite, they should focus on the flavor of the food they are eating, and take time to decide whether they feel hungry or are actually full.
Too often, people eat absentmindedly and without thinking about what and why they are consuming. By focusing on each bite, it’s much easier to identify when you’re satisfied and prevent overeating from distraction or boredom.
2. Plan ahead
If your clients have dietary restrictions or specific calorie targets, advise them to plan ahead for holiday parties and gatherings. If they have a small, healthy snack before they arrive, they will feel fuller and less likely to overindulge. Maybe they can offer to bring a healthier version of a holiday side dish or dessert. There are plenty of recipes for delicious, low-calorie alternatives to the rich, sugary foods that grace most holiday tables. We recently took the time to come up with seven easy and healthy holiday swaps ideal for Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings. Who knows — your client may introduce the rest of the guests to a new favorite and plant the seed for healthier habits.
3. Stay hydrated
Our bodies need water, and when we are dehydrated, we often mistake thirst for hunger. Encourage your clients to consume more water than usual. It helps control appetite, makes skin fresher and healthier during the drier, winter months, and it distracts from the never-ending torrent of candy and snacks around every corner.
Since alcohol is made up of empty calories, it’s better to limit it or avoid it altogether. If your clients plan to consume alcohol, however, remind them to drink responsibly and alternate a glass of water with every alcoholic beverage they consume. Not only does it reduce the number of calories they will ingest, but it also slows the effects of alcohol in the bloodstream and reduces the severity of any hangover symptoms.
If you don’t want to feel like you’re missing out when it comes to the festive drinks, consider giving a mocktail a chance. You can read about a healthier version of the classic Moscow Mule in our article covering the health benefits of ginger (the mocktail is recipe #3).
4. Eat veggies first
While it is tempting to load up on carbs first, your clients will feel fuller and more satisfied if they fill their plates with healthy, veggie-based side dishes and eat them first. They can still enjoy a variety of decadent foods. The key is enjoying just a few bites and using fresh vegetables and healthy sides as the main attraction of each meal.
5. Keep goals in sight
Your clients have worked hard to accomplish their health and fitness goals. They should refuse to let the last few months of the year undo their hard work or slow their progress. Have your clients write down their goals and post them on their bathroom mirror, dashboard, or another prominent place. It’s easier to stay focused when goals are front and center.
6. Stay mentally and physically active
The holiday season isn’t just about food. It’s an opportunity to connect with friends and family. By staying focused on activities rather than food, your clients will not only avoid derailing their diets, but they will also feel more fulfilled, relaxed, and ready to take on the new year. Encourage them to spend time with family reading or cooking healthy meals together. Another idea is to take walks outside with friends or to go sledding or ice skating. Even avoiding the buffet table and finding a group of people to talk to goes a long way in staying centered and in tune with health goals.
7. Be flexible and forgiving of yourself
It’s realistic to assume that health “rules” will be bent or broken during the holidays. Nobody is perfect, and everyone gets off track from time to time. The important thing for your clients to remember is that if they do make bad food or fitness choices, they can’t just stay mired in the feelings of guilt and defeat. They have to dust themselves off, remember that they are only human, and resolve to get back on track with their goals.
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. While there are plenty of foods, activities, and pressures that can threaten to throw your clients off course, remind them that moderation is key and to forgive themselves if they have a temporary lapse. Good health is a lifelong endeavor and won’t be permanently secured or destroyed in one season.