8 Tips to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season
I know when I first started out, I was very vulnerable at this time of year – all the parties, foods that are only seen at this time of year, crazy busy days, and more! A combination that makes it super easy to fall off the healthy eating wagon!
Since those early days I’m happy to say, the temptations are no longer a challenge during the holidays, as I’ve developed these 8 Tips to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season (plus a bonus eBook) that outline the exact things you need to do to stay healthy & navigate the holidays with success this holiday season.
Actually these tips can help you at any time of year, but I find most people I work with here at AlmostRawVegan.com find the holiday season to be the most challenging time of year, with the food/drink temptations, many social engagements, plus not as much time to keep up with the exercise you are used to.
My tips & tricks will help you to be prepared, shop smart, save money so you can avoid temptations and stay healthy each and every day. I want you to stick with your plan!
In addition to the article, you’ll find my FREE eBook below on the 9 Ways to Navigate the Holidays. which includes even MORE tips & tricks to keep you healthy, including sections to help you identify the specific strategies & steps that will help YOU succeed!
I’d love to hear your healthy tips, feel free to leave a comment below!
#1 AFFORDABLE HEALTHY EATING
When you think of healthy eating, what is the first thing you think of? Expensive? Out of reach?
I know in the early days of my journey to eat healthier I through of all those things, but I also thought of the benefits and here’s how I changed my thinking!
Healthy eating has been known to have a stigma of being “too expensive.” If you don’t know the secrets to eating clean and living healthy on a budget, then you will definitely end up paying more to lead a healthy life. The key to healthy eating is to learn how to bargain shop and choose the healthiest foods while saving the most money — eating healthy doesn’t have to empty the bank.
Here are a few simple ways to save money while still eating healthy:
Shop at Various Stores. All grocery stores are not created equal. Just like shopping for clothes, shoes, or anything – some stores tend to be more expensive than other stores. Make sure you check your local circulars or the local newspaper to price check and take note of any weekly specials and sales. For me, I find Loblaws to be less expensive than Whole Foods Market, Natural Food Pantry or Rainbow Foods. That doesn’t mean I never shop at Whole Foods, Natural Food Pantry or Rainbow Foods – I actually shop at them all. What I do is prepare a list so I know what I can get cheaper at Loblaws and what I absolutely must buy at one of the specialized health food stores. You can also look into membership’s for discounts and rewards for shopping at BJ’s, Sam’s Club, and Costco’s (and, of course also any similar stores in your own area).
What’s your favourite grocery store? Do they also have a store brand that can make shopping less expensive in general?
Coupons! Weekly newspapers and online websites are both excellent sources for finding easy to clip and print coupons. If you take 5-10 minutes to browse through you could definitely save on your grocery bill. For online printable coupons, I have heard rave reviews about Coupons.com , I hear they have easy to view and print coupons, and you can easily save $20 on a grocery bill which when you think about it could very easily be the cost difference between organic and non-organic produce. Couponing gives your budget more leeway to benefit from better, healthier choices. Another great place to check for coupons by stores and ongoing specials is The Krazy Coupon Lady this site is known for being the #1 coupon site in the USA.
#2 SHOPPING THE BORDER
So, what does shopping the border mean? Well let me tell you – because I am the Queen of border shopping!
And no, I’m not talking about the Canada-USA border 🙂
I’m talking about the approach I take when I’m at the grocery store!
I only ever shopping on the exterior of the grocery story. And doing so is extremely important.
Let me tell you why.
For one, you’ll notice that by shopping on the outside borders of the store you are avoiding most unhealthy boxed, canned, packaged and heavily processed food items, which all tend to be in the centre aisles in the store.
Second, you’ll realize that those boxed and processed foods are actually much more expensive than the items found on the outside borders of the store, items like fruits, vegetables, and refrigerated items.
When you walk the outside perimeter of the grocery store, this is where you find the fresh vegetables, fruits & other fresh produce.
Personally, I always start in the produce section then work my way to the organic or health food section. And that’s about it for me. Occasionally I go to the pasta aisle, because hubby does love his pasta (plant-based of course), but other than that I shop the outside of the store, produce section and natural organic sections only. This also means I’m not fighting the crowds in the middle aisles so I just zip in and out in record time, I love it!
It’s understandable that not all budgets can afford to eat 100% organic all of the time. My philosophy is eat as much organic as you can, and stay within your budget. One tool I find super useful is the Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen List. This list helps you to know which fruits & veggies are most susceptible to toxins and pestisides, and if you are buying organic I would put these at the top of your list. The one’s that are less susceptible to toxins you can buy non-organic if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy everything organic.
The Dirty Dozen, 12 fruits and veggies with the most pesticides.
So it’s best to purchase the Dirty Dozen as organic whenever you can.
The Clean 15 fruits and veggies with the least pesticides.
Then we have the Clean 15, these 15 fruits and veggies are considered to be safer if bought non-organic.
You do want to make sure that when you do buy non-organic food that you are always opting for non-GMO food. Genetically Modified Food has been linked to illnesses, and I want you to live the healthiest life possible so be sure to avoid GMO food as much as possible.
#3 EATING SEASONALLY
Eating seasonally is a great strategy that not only benefits your budget, but your body will also thrive by eating those foods that are in season, fresh and local.
Of course for those of us that live in the great white north, where there is snow, ice and minus 30 Celsius temperatures (brrrrrrr), eating seasonal year round is not an option. But during the growing season I always recommend you treat your body to seasonal foods.
For example, our bodies seemingly crave having more cooling food during the summer and more soups and warmer foods during the winter. You always want to eat heavier foods during the winter so that you do not feel weighed down during those warm summer months. Stay cool in the summer and create heat in the winter, pretty simple concept – right? Do you find yourself feeling this way?
When you eat seasonally, you also reap the rewards of seasonal pricing because it is much easier for the grocery stores, and farmers markets to stock up on what’s in season. As an example, berries are often more affordable and last longer when bought during the spring and summer seasons.
A few of my favourite fruits and vegetables in season in Winter are ~ Brussels sprouts, collard greens, dates, oranges, pomegranate, sweet potatoes, kale, and pears.
If you’ve never tried buying produce in season, give it a shot. Take a look online for lists of foods in season each season, and see what happens when you eat mostly foods in season.
On top of the health benefits, another plus is foods in season have so much more flavour. So delicious!
#4 SMART GROCERY SHOPPING TIPS
Shopping locally will definitely cut out the costs of having a middle man to package and stock the shelves of most grocery stores. During the warmer months, you’ll find more farmer’s markets that are open and provide lower cost fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also check your local chamber of commerce or your local newspaper to see if there are any festival or farmer’s market events in your area.
It’s also an excellent idea to check out local community supported agriculture (CSA). If you’ve never looked into CSA’s before, you can go to localharvest.org/csa to learn about CSA’s and find one in your area.
We have several in our local area, and it’s a great way to not only eat seasonal local foods (vs. Foods that have been in a truck for a few weeks, which being shipped to Canada from Mexico), you’ll also find the produce is fresher and more nutritious because it hasn’t sat on a truck to ripen!
Another smart grocery shopping tip is to buy frozen, healthy foods. Frozen foods can be much less expensive and the best way to conserve your food and avoid waste is to freeze. I love buying my berries frozen, even spinach and other veggies. That way I also have on hand, and it’s easy to whip up a veggie stew or smoothie in no time.
There’s no question that brand names cost more money unless you’ve hit a really fantastic sale. Most grocery stores carry a store brand that is less expensive than the name brand items.
Check out your local grocery stores and ask for assistance to find the store brand. When you compare pricing, you’ll realize how much you could actually save by avoiding most name brand items. Of course, be sure to check ingredients and make sure that you are not filling your cupboard with processed foods that will harm your health. One of the things I do, is if the ingredients list includes items I have in my own kitchen, then I’m ok. If it includes any names that I cannot pronounce or that are not in my kitchen, I take a pass!
#5 BUDGETING YOUR GROCERY LIST
Planning ahead definitely saves more time and money, since you’ll have a list to keep your eyes from wandering and your tummy from doing the thinking for you. Make sure to never food shop on an empty stomach. I’ve done this before, and I’ve wound up with an overflowing shopping cart with some less healthy items because I let my stomach do the buying.
Make a grocery list, stick to special items and savings items, and then stick to your plan. You’ll love my online programs, where the 10-Day Body Reset DETOX and21-Day Raw Food RECHARGE both include shopping list as part of the material package, so it’s super easy to stay on track and only buy what you need 🙂
Shopping online for groceries is a great way to truly stick to your exact list and also to see the specials all in one place. When you buy online, you can easily price compare and see the cost of your cart as you add items to it which is excellent for checkout and staying within your budget means.
I buy a lot of my pantry staples on amazon, you can check out the full list of my Pantry Staples that I keep on hand at all times.
Most grocery stores now offer a way to shop online, pick up at the store, or have it delivered to your home. Picking up the grocery items in the store is much easier than you could imagine because sometimes you don’t even have to walk inside due to curbside pickup.
If you’re a mom with children or limited physically, this is an excellent way to shop with less stress. When you opt for buying online, you can also add your email when you create your store account and save even more with first-time customer coupons depending on your store.
Lastly, one of my favourite ways to shop smart is to buy in bulk when possible for certain items. I would suggest if you plan to buy in bulk to shop less shop bi-weekly instead of shopping weekly. A bi-weekly trip to the grocery store would be better for bulk purchasing, and it won’t affect your monthly budget overall.
#6 YOU DON’T HAVE TO COOK EVERY NIGHT!
Have you ever heard the term “cook once, eat twice”?
Another way to say this? Leftovers! Just because there are 7 nights throughout the week that doesn’t mean you need to cook for all 7 nights, right?
You can cook once with more servings, save in the refrigerator or the freezer, and then 1-2 days later reheat and enjoy your already cooked meal while avoiding overwhelm in the kitchen to make a delicious meal.
I do this ALL the time. In fact it’s a general approach for me now that I will always make a double or even triple batch, whether it’s Falafel Burgers, Chilli, Ratatouille, Shepherds Pie, even smoothie bags I make in bulk and freeze.
I can’t tell you what a HUGE timesaver this approach is. I do love to cook, but I’m also lazy and super busy 🙂 so I want to be as efficient as possible in my meal planning! Don’t you?
#7 CREATING THE BEST PLAN FOR YOUR HEALTHY CHOICES
The first step to creating the best plan is to actually think about your situation.
Are you eating out at a gathering or during a date?
Is it appropriate to bring food or do you have to make the most of what is there?
Are you having a really busy week with little to no time to prep home cooked meals and you need quick ways to help you eat healthy home while you are out and about most of the week?
Take these two steps to create the best possible plan:
Step #1. Understand what you are prepping for – busy week and you need to plan healthy eating at home? Or, are you out all week, and you’ll grab food while out and about?
Step #2. Decide how you’ll manage the situation in the best way possible and still cling to your healthy lifestyle.
Living a healthy life is your number one goal and to keep your body healthy you have to nourish it with healthy food. Make sure that you keep a shopping list, stock your kitchen, and plan and pack ahead of time for quick meals on the go.
When you plan ahead of time, you’ll be able to eat healthy all of the time whether you are out and about or recovering from a long day.
I’m here to help you make the best choices for both you and your family. The best way to eat healthy while out and about during the holidays is to prepare in advance.
#8 PREPPING YOUR MEALS FOR A BUSY WEEK
Meal planning does not have to take a significant amount of time, it only takes about 20-30 minutes at the start of each week, and allows you to see a few things ahead of time:
- What is going on this week?
- How many nights will we actually be home for dinner?
- What do we already have in our fridge/freezer/pantry?
- What can I pick up that will help keep the family on track and feeling great?
I know that suggesting that you add one more thing to your night time routine seems difficult. But, you’ll see a tremendous difference preparing the night before will make will be huge!
One of the best times to actually pack for your family for school or work lunches, or snacks for you and your spouse throughout the day, is during dinner. Think about it, you already have all of your ingredients, and cutting boards out, and you are already working in the kitchen.
And the best part? Doing it all at once saves time!
I have a full lesson on meal planning in my 21-Day Raw Food RECHARGE, complete with a Guide, Meal Plan templates & shopping list template. Meal Planning is the #1 key to success when you are wanting to ensure you eat healthy all the time.
Being prepared will give you and your family a better opportunity to have healthier choices around while out and about. If you pack your own lunch and snacks, this will easily avoid quick unhealthy options for convenience. You’ll have everything you need with you!
Batch cooking is so awesome when you want to quickly prep for the entire week in as little as 30 minutes on a Sunday evening before the work week begins. You’ll need freezer bags to help store the meals and smoothie ingredients for each night of the week in the freezer.
You can quickly prep your meals, cut veggies, and add all you need for the nights dinner in the freezer bag.
I also like to make a batch of soup on the weekend, several salad dressing and several stir-fry dressings. This make pulling together a meal super easy.
I add a note on the ziplock, with the date/time, any ingredients I need to add, instructions, etc. and take it out of the freezer when I’m ready to use (usually the night before).
Not only does this go hand in hand with meal planning, but I also have hundred of recipes on my blog to help you along the way. So sit down with a cup of tea and find some recipes that you love!