Healthy Holiday Habits: Fill Up and Feel the (Self) Love

We’ve all experienced what Maggie Hauser, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Em’s college roomie at Xavier University calls “ the food guilt” train. You want a cookie, you eat said cookie, and then remember your fitness goals and wonder why you caved. Newsflash, one cookie is not going to ruin it all. The good news … you can have your cake and eat it too! Maggie’s here to tell you how to fill up and feel your best this holiday season!

  1. Eat a nutrient-dense breakfast.

Instead of starving yourself before a holiday party, focus on a solid breakfast 1-2 hours after you wake. If you go too long without eating, your blood sugar will drop and you’re much more likely to make poor food choices. We’ve all done the pantry raid. Protein, fiber, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates will control your cravings and keep you full.

Try this:

An egg scramble with veggies, avocado toast with an overeasy egg, a green protein smoothie, or steel cut oats with nuts and berries.

2. Choose fiber-rich foods.

Not just for breakfast, but as often as possible! Fiber is the part of a carbohydrate (in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains) that cannot be digested which means it has no calories. That’s right: high fiber foods fill you up without filling you…out. Fiber also slows digestion and helps stabilize your blood sugar to keep satisfied longer. The key is to choose the right kinds of carbs with high fiber content.

Try this:

Quinoa, oats, oranges, blueberries, beets, and sweet potatoes.

3. Bust out that pretty Christmas china you thought you’d never use…

The party buffet is where portion control goes to die. If you park yourself next to the cheese boards or cookie station, you’ll nibble and graze until you’re lookin’ like Mr. Claus himself.

Try this:

Make a well-balanced satisfying plate and then take a seat and socialize with your family (step away from the snack table!)

4. Control what you can control

Hosting at your place? You can still present traditional, crowd-pleasing holiday dishes with sneaky ingredient swaps. Insert Pinterest here. This is also a great opportunity to introduce a new healthy dish to everyone you love!

Try this:

Make a big, beautiful veggie, fruit, seed and nut board on the table. (like the one we found here) Not hosting? Offer to bring a dish so that you’ll have a fresh go-to to share.

5. Drink water. Morning, noon & night.

Pay attention to staying well-hydrated, especially when you know you’re going to eat rich foods and sip seasonal drinks. Your gut will appreciate it, your skin will likely be clearer, and you may be more likely to dodge whatever virus is being bred by your nephew’s uncovered coughs near the cookie plate.

Try this:

Challenge yourself to drink a full glass of water (or hot water with lemon …my personal favorite!) every morning when you wake up. Keep a water bottle or tumbler with you and refill it throughout the day

6. Keep moving

Yes, we all love the generous stretch of our favorite yoga pants, but you’ll feel a lot better if you don’t veg on the couch watching that third Lifetime movie. Daily movement helps with digestion and makes for better sleep at night – not to mention the extra calorie burn.

Try this:

Go for a quick walk after meals or walk an extra lap in the mall while shopping, just for the extra steps! Don’t do it for the scale but think of it as well-deserved “me time”

7. Speaking of movement… increase B Vitamin + Magnesium.

If you’re feeling a little too full and maybe haven’t been – ahem- regular as of late, make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins and magnesium in your diet. Magnesium regulates your stress hormone, aids in smoother digestion and sleep ( low stress, no cramping and a sound nights sleep? Count me in!)

Try this:

Give your overworked liver a boost by increasing your B vitamin intake ( chickpeas, bananas, shellfish, or grass-fed meat). Up your Magnesium with leafy greens, sunflower seeds, or even chocolate (Yep, you read that right) and an epsom salt bath!

8. Ask for help if you need it

The holidays can bring up a range of emotions for people: joy, sadness, excitement, and exhaustion are just a few of them. Our state of mind largely affects our relationship with food. Many people seek comfort in the pleasure of eating, even when they know it’s not going to make them feel better in the long run.

Try this:

Ask a friend to be your accountability “buddy” if you are afraid you’ll really get off track. If you’re interested in a more formal coaching relationship, I think I know a Health Coach… (psst, it’s me!)

And the biggest tip from Maggie? Remember the spirit of the holidays! We wanted to do a post like this not to food shame you, but to help take away the guess work if you, like us, are trying to keep yourself from completely derailing for three months. We’re big fans of moderation around here. Eat the cheesy potatoes BUT make sure the serving size doesn’t double the plate-space of those veggies! You control your attitude and actions, and they are contagious! If starting a healthy lifestyle is your 2019 goal, get started now!

Let’s start the holiday season happy and healthy, together. Who’s with us?!

Maggie Hauser is a current student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). As a health coach, she has guided several accountability groups and is beginning to work with individuals to achieve their health goals. Interested in obtaining more resources, working with Maggie, or finding out more about IIN? Contact her at and @maggie_p_h on Instagram. 

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