The Ultimate Holiday Wellness Survival Guide | Donaldson

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By Dr. Marguerite Weston |

The Holiday Wellness Survival Guide

Holiday Wellness Survival Guide

How To Survive The Season With Your Physical & Mental Health In Tact 

The holiday season is a time for celebration, togetherness and, oftentimes, indulgence. Family gatherings, work parties and celebratory feasts take center stage as our routines take a backseat. While these traditions bring joy and warmth, they can also pose challenges to maintaining good health. The excesses of the season can take a toll on your well-being.

However, with a little planning and a focus on balance, you can enjoy the festivities while keeping your health in check. Our functional medicine experts have compiled the ultimate “Holiday Wellness Survival Guide” to help you navigate the holiday season with joy and wellness in mind! 


Attentive Eating

One of the key principles of maintaining optimal health during the holidays is to practice mindful eating. This means being aware of what and how much you eat. You can still have a great time and enjoy the flavors of the season, but keeping your indulgences in check will ensure you feel good while doing so. 

Some Quick Tips To Get You Through Without The Guilt

Lemon water before meals
  • Lemon water before meals: By drinking a full glass of water with lemon 10 minutes before your big meals, you can stimulate the production of stomach acid to help improve digestion and reduce bloating.
  • Balance your plate: Fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and the remaining quarter with carbohydrates.
  • Savor each bite: Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and enjoy the flavors to prevent overeating; taking your time while eating correlates to lower stress, and lower stress improves our gut health.
  • Plan your indulgences: Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite holiday treats in moderation.

“Mentally, if you’re trying to restrict yourself during the holidays, you’re not going to find it very joyful! That’s why I always say it is easier to add things to your lifestyle instead of taking them out.”

-Dr. Marguerite Weston

Disocver Healthy Alternatives

First and foremost, portion control is going to be difficult during this time when excess is encouraged! Serve yourself smaller portions to encourage moderation. From here, finding healthier alternatives for traditional holiday recipes will allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes without sacrificing flavor. Some of the most popular ingredient swaps include:

  • Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Whole grains instead of refined grains
  • Olive oil instead of butter
  • Spaghetti squash instead of refined pasta
  • Milled flaxseed instead of breadcrumbs
  • Monk fruit instead of sugar
  • Full-fat coconut milk instead of half-and-half

Stay Hydrated The Whole Time 

Amidst the festivities, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water — especially if alcohol is involved. Dehydration can lead to overeating, fatigue and other health issues. Keep a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day and aim to get a consistent 8 glasses a day. If you’re enjoying alcoholic beverages, intersperse them with water to stay balanced and avoid dehydration.

Holiday Hangover Prevention

One hallmark of this time of year is a festive cocktail with friends and family. If you choose to partake, it helps to have a N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) supplement on standby. When taken before, during and after drinking, NAC can help prevent some of the symptoms synonymous with an alcohol-induced hangover by supporting the liver. B complex supplements can also help replenish some of what is lost during a long night out.

However, the only true “cure” for a hangover is to prevent it from happening in the first place! Monitor your indulgences, appreciate your surroundings and wake up the next day with a clear head. 

A family walk during the winter

Prioritize Physical Activity

Don’t let your exercise routine fall by the wayside during the holidays. Plan your workouts in advance, and consider inviting family and friends to join you. Go for a brisk walk, play active games or dance at holiday parties to keep moving. It also helps to knock out that designated exercise first thing in the morning so you can go about your day without it looming overhead. 

“Some people think that if an activity is too small it isn’t worth doing. It’s one of our faults as humans! But walking 10 minutes after your meal can help. A little apple cider vinegar before eating minimizes the glucose spike. Avoid sweets on an empty stomach. These are simple things that can really make a difference!”

-Dr. Marguerite Weston

Manage Stress

Holiday stress is common but can negatively impact your health. Manage stress through relaxation techniques and self-care. Take time out to practice meditation or deep breathing exercises to calm your mind. Be sure to set some boundaries and don’t overcommit to stuff your schedule to much; it is ok to say “no” when necessary!

And remember: this is supposed to be a happy time, a period of escape and rejuvenation. Make space in that schedule for yourself to relax, read or do some of those comfort activities you enjoy.

Combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder 

While you’re fighting to keep up with your plans, the days are also growing shorter and there’s simply not enough of that all-important natural light as there was before. This can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression. We often recommend patients to take a Vitamin D supplement to combat the negative effects of SAD. Light therapy or the use of so-called “happy lights” can also reduce the symptoms of depression and improve energy levels. 

A person taking a luxurious bath

Don’t Forget To Get Enough Sleep

Adequate rest is crucial for maintaining good health. Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain and weakened immunity at a time when viruses can spread more easily. Try to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Establish a routine, and wind down before sleep with soothing activities, such as reading or taking a warm bath. This will ensure you’re ready for action the next day! 

Seek Support Before You Need It

If you find it challenging to stay on track with your health goals during the holidays, seek support from friends or family members who share your commitment to wellness. Partner with a specific person with a shared goal in an effort to help each other stay motivated. This accountability buddy doesn’t even have to be around you physically; tap into the fitness and healthy living side of social media to get positive reinforcement.

Practice Gratitude & Perspective Checks

Remember the true spirit of the holidays, which goes beyond food, presents and traveling. Keep a physical gratitude journal and write down things you’re thankful for each day. It is so easy to fall into the trap of trying to achieve perfection; the ideal dinner, the memorable party, the pristine picture. But not everything is going to be perfect, so appreciate the nuances and even the things that pop up that aren’t planned! 

“You can enjoy the holiday season while maintaining good health! Remember, it’s all about balance and moderation. Embrace the joy of the season, cherish your loved ones and take care of your well-being.”

-Dr. Marguerite Weston

Dr. Marguerite Weston Author Bio Photo

About The Author 

Dr. Marguerite Weston is a distinguished and highly regarded functional medicine doctor in Columbus, Ohio. With a passion for improving the lives of her patients, she has dedicated her career to the pursuit of optimal health and wellness. Dr. Weston’s expertise in weight management, hormone therapy and gut health optimization has empowered countless individuals to reclaim their vitality and vitality. With an emphasis on getting to the root cause of health issues, she often incorporates many of the tips found in this guide when working with patients.

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