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The holiday season is a joyous time that for some also comes with stress, anxiety and shame around nutrition choices. Let this year be different! If you have the right tools in your toolbox and the right mindset you can handle this holiday season with ease.

1. Create a weekly meal plan

Planning your meals for the week ahead can set you up for success and help keep you on track with your health goals. Planning your meals ahead will make you more likely to eat a wider variety of fruits and vegetables and generally help you consume healthier meals.

2. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables stocked in the house

One way to ensure you and the family are keeping a well balanced diet through the holiday season is to make healthy foods convenient by keeping them in the home. For example: Keeping pre cut carrots and celery in the refrigerator so you can grab them on the go and pair them with peanut butter or ranch. Purchase pre-chopped veggies to throw into a stir-fry. Buy bags of pre-made salad that have toppings and dressing included for nights when you get home late and don't feel like cooking. Having healthier food options available make it much more likely to eat them instead of ordering take out or grabbing other processed snacks.

3. Eat mindfully

When enjoying holiday meals, chew your food slowly and savor the different flavors, textures, and smells. Mindful eating can prevent overeating and curb the undesirable consequences of overeating such as uncomfortable fullness and bloating. It can take approximately 15 minutes for your brain to start recognizing that you’re full. While you’re eating, put down your fork and check-in with yourself. How does your food taste? How hungry or full are you feeling? Recognize your body sensations when you are full to prevent eating to the point of discomfort.

4. Hydrate

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and other non-caffeinated beverages such as herbal tea and fruit-infused water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Adults are recommended to consume between 2 to 3 liters per day, however water requirements vary depending on your age, sex, and activity level. Alcohol consumption can induce mild dehydration. When enjoying alcoholic beverages this holiday season, ensure you’re drinking plenty of water and consuming hydrating foods, such as fruits and vegetables. How can you tell if you’re well-hydrated? Monitoring the color of your urine is a simple technique for determining how hydrated you are.

5. Remember to love and respect your body

Take time to check in with yourself. Remember that the holiday season is a time of thanksgiving and spending time with loved ones. That includes spending time with yourself and appreciating all that you and your body are capable of. During all the holiday celebrations, remember to nourish and respect your body. Allow yourself to enjoy all the fun treats while still remaining cognizant of wanting to nourish your body and not harm it.

6. Stay active

The shorter days and cooler temperatures may tempt you to bundle up on the couch this winter, however, staying active is essential for your health year round. Routine exercise can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and reduce your risk of developing many chronic illnesses. Seasonal affective disorder is very common in the winter months and staying active with a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to combat it. Find an activity you enjoy, such as walking, biking, hiking, running, yoga, pilates, dancing, or weight lifting.

7. Practice gratitude

Expressing appreciation can have lasting benefits on your health and well-being. Curb negative chatter in your head by writing down or saying aloud a self-affirmation, a positive statement about yourself (e.g., I am capable and smart), each day. You can leave sticky notes with affirmations in areas you look frequently like the bathroom mirror or in your car. When you take the time to read it, you exude gratitude to the universe and welcome happiness to brighten your mood!

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