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As moms, we want the best for our families, especially their health. And we know that health is often about more than just physical health (although that’s important too). It’s also about our mental health.
Unfortunately, as enjoyable as this time of year can be, it can also be a time when health gets put on the back burner. You may find yourself snacking on treats you wish you had the willpower to resist, your kids may be bouncing off the walls from sugar overload, and I wouldn’t be surprised if your stress levels don’t begin to climb with all the get-togethers to plan and gifts to buy.
But you can be a healthier mom during the holidays. Here’s how you can get started:
1) BE HEALTHY THE REST OF THE YEAR
This is sometimes easier said than done, I know. But it’s important!
Start by saying NO to buying junk.
Studies have shown that when junk food is physically placed farther away from you on the table, you’re less likely to eat it. One study in particular showed that even a distance as small as 50 centimeters makes a person less likely to partake in junk food!
So imagine how much less likely you’d be to eat it if you didn’t buy it at all?
The holidays are a tempting time not just for you, but for your kids too. As much as you can, keep the treats to a minimum.
One easy way to do this (besides not buying them at all) is to serve treats that require preparation–like Christmas cookies, or Pumpkin Spice Krispie Treats. These kinds of treats don’t have a long shelf life and won’t be around to snack on all the time. Make small batches, and enjoy each others’ company as you make them together!
And if you’re usually pretty active the rest of the year, keep that up too. If you’re not–start! It can be tempting to wait until the new year, but I think deep down you know that’s an excuse to put it off.
2) FIND A WHY BIGGER THAN YOURSELF
Being dairy-free forced me to eat healthier (dairy just happens to be in a lot of bad-for-you food), but I would have never had the willpower to go dairy-free to begin with if it wasn’t for my daughter’s sake.
As someone with type 1 diabetes, taking care of myself is extra important. But as nice as not having diabetes complications is, I do my best to eat well and exercise for my kids. Not for me.
If your reasons for working on your weight or health are so that you can look good in them jeans…I’d venture a guess that it will be difficult to stay on the wagon. Find a why bigger than that for you, and focus on that. Maybe your why will be as simple as setting a good example for your kids! Only you know what kind of why will work for you.
3) ASK FOR SUPPORT
This will look different depending on your needs. For me, I’ve had to ask my husband to stop buying things like sugary cereal and processed snack foods.
Because let’s be real: I love all that junk. If it’s around, I’ll eat it in a moment of weakness, and I don’t even want that temptation. It took too long to break that habit! I need my husband’s support in this.
Support for you might look like asking someone to watch your kids so you can go to the gym, or have a long shower, or clean the house for company to visit. It might look like paying someone (or asking a friend or relative) to help clean your yard or deep clean your house so that you don’t have to stress about it.
It’s okay to ask for help. Ask for it!
4) FOCUS ON EXPERIENCES
Stress isn’t good for us, and the holidays can be all kinds of stressful, especially with the expectation to buy gifts.
One way to get around that is to focus on experiences. What can you do–both for yourself and your family–that would be an experiential alternative to hefty gift giving?
Volunteering at a shelter?
Helping with a church production or mission?
Organizing a toy drive for underprivileged kids?
Or something as simple as a dedicated afternoon of playing in the snow?
Okay, maybe the snow thing is just a fantasy of mine being an Arizona native…but you get the idea. There are lots of ways to celebrate the season and spend time with loved ones that don’t involve spending loads of money on gifts. And besides, research has shown that experiences bring us more satisfaction than gifts anyway!
5) DON’T ACT OUT OF OBLIGATION
A surefire way to stress yourself out this holiday season is to do things because you feel like you have to. Now, there’s always going to be some feeling of obligation during the holidays, but do what you can to keep it to a minimum. Or, see if you can fulfill your obligations in ways that bring you joy–or at least don’t stress you out as much.
Do you hate having to bring over an elaborate dish to a family gathering but don’t mind doing some dishes? Maybe volunteer to do after-meal cleanup instead.
Don’t want to spend hours talking with family you don’t get along with? Keep your visit short and sweet, and maybe plan an activity that doesn’t allow for much discussion of hot topics.
Don’t want to spend money you don’t have on expensive gifts? Consider making your gifts and focusing on experiences (see #4!) instead.
If you find yourself feeling like a Scrooge during the holidays, try to get to the bottom of why. Healing that part of you that gets frustrated this time of year is good for your health!
What kinds of things do you put in place to stay on track health-wise during this time of year? Let me know in the comments!
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