Eat, Drink, & Be Merry: Healthy holiday hacks

by Chante Gamby, Contributing Writer

The holiday season can be an exciting, and stressful, time of the year. In between social events and all the activities that come with the holiday season, it can be challenging to find the balance between celebration and maintaining your overall wellness. This year, we are offering some health “swaps” to help you fully enjoy the holiday season, while also maintaining your health needs. This year, consider swapping:

  • Stress for Self-Care. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Often there feels like there is so much to do and little time to do it. Consistently remaining busy can increase that sense of pressure and stress which makes it difficult to fully enjoy the moment. Instead of giving all your time to getting things done, give yourself time to take care of yourself. When you start to feel stressed (or even before), give yourself a break. Even fifteen minutes can help you reset and take on the next holiday task (with a little less stress). Giving yourself a break on a regular basis can help keep the stress in check.
  • Comparison for Compassion. Social media can bring up the feels for people during the holidays. Seeing pictures of people being with family when you may not be with others or going on adventures that you may not be able to do at the moment, can trigger that comparison bug which can also steal the joy of the season. Instead of choosing to compare yourself to others, choose to show yourself some love. Go on a social media detox if you find that social media posts are bringing you down. Look at pictures that remind you of what you have to be grateful for. You can also give time, food, or donations to those who are in need during the holiday season to remind yourself of your own blessings, while also being a blessing to others. Finally, remind yourself that no one’s life is perfect (even if it may appear that way on Instagram or the holiday photo).
  • Sugar (and salt) for sustenance. The holiday season is the primary moment when the healthy food choices that we may have made throughout the year can take a sharp left. With an increase in social activities, there is usually a limited number of healthy dietary options. The result: we are often left happy that we had an enjoyable meal, but also bloated and tired. If you know that you are going to have a traditional soul food holiday with all the trimmings, consider adding spices and herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties, such as garlic, turmeric, rosemary, cinnamon, and ginger. You can also try putting a new twist on meal favorites. For example, a soul food staple, sweet potatoes, have anti-inflammatory properties and can be a good source of fiber. Consider baking them with cinnamon for a sweet side that can also help your body process all the other food that you are going to enjoy. Keep in mind while sweet and salty treats are delicious, too many can lead to issues later. To prevent this, try to drink water throughout (and between) meals. Staying hydrated can help your body process food and can help you feel fuller more quickly.
  • Alcohol for All-Inclusive. Most social events have plenty of alcohol options but limited non-alcoholic options. This can make a particularly challenging situation for those who don’t drink, have certain dietary restrictions, or are trying to maintain their sobriety. If you are a non-drinker at a holiday celebration at a restaurant or bar, consider ordering virgin options of their signature drinks. If you are going to someone’s house, consider bringing your own favorite drink for yourself, or to share with others. If you are hosting, consider offering both an alcoholic cocktail drink as well as non-alcoholic options to create a comfortable space for all of your guests. You could even challenge yourself and others to compete for the best non-alcoholic beverage, infused with other flavors, such as lavender, for example.

The holidays can be a wonderful time full of fun, rest, community, and health when we are intentional about the experience. This year, take some time to think about what you truly want to experience this holiday season, and those aspects of the season that you would like to not experience if possible, as well. Remember, that you can choose to have an enjoyable, healthy holiday season by giving yourself the gift of healthy practices.

Chante’ Gamby is a writer and social worker passionate about social justice and empowering others to live their healthiest lives. You can follow her on Facebook at Fringefam, Instagram@fringegram, or on her website,

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