Body & Beauty Gut Health & Digestion

Give Your Holiday Traditions a Healthy Refresh

Family with warm socks sitting by the fireplace

Each year, we celebrate holiday rituals–but there’s a difference between maintaining tradition and holding on to unhealthy habits.

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are busy preparing for gift exchanges, baking, visits with relatives, and planning some serious party hopping and hosting!

This season is all about celebrating togetherness and traditions. But what about holiday customs that tend to spark stress and regret instead of joy? You may love saying yes to every engagement and eating a little too much of Aunt Martha’s deep-fried turkey–but do these annual tendencies fall in line with your personal health values?

Changing things up doesn’t mean letting go of certain festive favourites completely. Some traditions become even better when they evolve to support your personal growth and values. Here are some simple ways to keep the fun and memories without sacrificing health and wellbeing.

Indulge Mindfully

Put down the plum pudding–the third helping, that is. Holiday celebrations are laden with temptation, and busy schedules have some of us reaching for convenient choices that aren’t necessarily nourishing and can lead to holiday weight gain.  

Indulge, but slow down and really savour your seasonal favourites. When we’re not making mindful choices and rushing through eating there’s less enjoyment–which is the whole point!

Avoid always reaching for the butter tarts by keeping some healthy snacks on hand (fruit, whole nuts, a water bottle) and include meal prep in your holiday planning to ensure there are some grounding, nourishing meals served between events.

Give Yourself the Gift of Gut Health

You may not know it, but your gut plays an integral role in your holiday cheer. Research has shown the connection between gut health and mood, digestion and immunity–three facets of health you rely on to really enjoy everything this time of year has to offer.

Support your gut health throughout the holidays with something as simple as a daily probiotic. This can bolster gut bacteria, as can a variety of fermented foods, such as kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut, that can easily be incorporated into holiday recipes and meal plans. Take some inspiration from our recipes to get started.

Take Hibernation Seriously

Family sleeping

The holidays are a busy time for many people–whether you’re logging more hours at the office or working the party circuit, it’s crucial to remember to snooze. 73% of Canadians say that their health is impacted by a lack of sleep, which we all need to support mood, cognitive function, blood sugar levels and even help prevent us from getting sick!

Make sleep a priority by reducing stimulants and screens in the evenings and set the mood with a soothing bath or herbal tea. Also–try taking a vitamin D supplement, as those with low levels of vitamin D have also been shown to have shorter sleep durations.

Take it Outside

Friends outside during winter

There’s more to walking in a winter wonderland than taking in the scenery.  Just 30-60 minutes of moderate daily exercise can boost immunity, relieve stress and improve circulation, and exercising outside gets your heart rate and your spirits up–especially around this time of year.

Getting your daily dose of movement outside increases exposure to fresh air and sunlight–a precious resource during our Canadian winters. A family hike, sledding or caroling in the neighborhood are great ways to spread cheer and work fitness into holiday activities.

Start Resolutions Early

Reports have shown that “improving personal fitness and nutrition” is the top New Year’s resolution among Canadians year after year, yet less than a quarter of them have been able to keep their resolutions in the past.

The truth is, it’s not realistic to expect your entire lifestyle to change once the calendar flips from December 31 to January 1. Preparation is key! Making mindful eating and health choices throughout the holiday season prepares to be our best self in the coming year.  

A little practice, preparation and, planning, lays a foundation for success with healthier habits so you can ride the motivational wave of the new year, instead of being overwhelmed. These evolved traditions can help you greet the new year feeling great instead of resolving to recover from overdoing it over the holidays.

Presence Over Presents

Some of the best holiday memories are made by what you didn’t do. It’s ok to step back from some festivities to grant yourself some breathing space and mindfulness. Focus your holiday time on activities and people that fill you up with happiness, joy and togetherness.

The best traditions and memories arise from what makes you happy, whether it’s the glow of the lights, children’s laughter or the embrace of a dear relative–you’ll enjoy the holidays so much more when you let yourself breathe in the holiday cheer!

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As part of the senior leadership team, Michelle develops implements and leads communication initiatives that support the strategic priorities of the Association. She is responsible for overseeing the integrated communications strategy including both internal and external communications, the management of all public relations, marketing, advertising and member communications.