12 Tips for Staying Healthy and Stress-Free during the Holiday Season

12 Tips for Staying Healthy and Stress-Free during the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here! This festive time of year is filled with spending time with loved ones, lots of parties, gift shopping and indulging in a wide variety of traditional holiday foods and drinks. If you strive to eat a healthy diet while leading busy lives, the holidays can be a challenging time.


Not only are we all busier than ever, we know that all those holiday foods and drinks filled with sugar, unhealthy ingredients, and alcohol are going to give us indigestion, sap our energy, trigger inflammation, and pile on the pounds. The key to enjoying this season is to remember to relax, maintain balance, and stay focused on your long term health goals.


Try the following 12 Tips for Staying Healthy and Stress-Free during the Holiday Season!



Farmer's market Basket



  • Shop at the farmers’ market.

    Instead of heading to the local supermarket, visit a local farmers’ market, where you can buy fresh, local, seasonal and organic produce, along with other nutritious foods created by farmers and local food artisans. You’ll have a much more enjoyable experience in addition to stocking up on the whole foods you need to have handy. You can also find excellent choices at natural and health food stores if there are no farmers’ markets close by.


 Cinnamon Almond Butter Cookies made with almond flour and coconut sugar

Cinnamon Almond Butter Cookies


  • Upgrade your family recipes.

    Upgrade your favorite family recipes with healthier ingredients.  Use nutrient-rich, whole foods that don’t have unnatural fillers and other additives, including seasonal, organic vegetables and fruits, wild-caught seafood, and pasture-raised, organic chicken and meats that come from well-fed, unadulterated, healthy animals. Eating these whole foods will completely nourish your body, make you feel better and ramp up your energy. When you eat these healthier nutrient-dense choices you’ll find you won’t overeat, so it’s much easier to maintain your weight without counting calories. Try my recipe for cinnamon almond butter cookies made without bleached flour and refined white sugar.



 Kale Apple Salad with Pineapple Hemp Dressing

Kale Apple Salad with Pineapple Hemp Dressing


  • Eat a healthy mini meal before attending holiday parties.

    When attending holiday parties make sure you eat a healthy mini meal like a vegetable salad before attending so you won’t overeat an abundance of party foods. Once you get there you will be able to enjoy smaller portions of your favorite holiday foods without feeling guilty. You can also bring one of your favorite healthy dishes to share with everyone else. Here’s my recipe for Kale Apple Salad with Pineapple Hemp Dressing.


  • When shopping, check labels and avoid foods with a long list of ingredients.

    The best whole foods have one or just a few unprocessed or minimally processed easily recognized ingredients. Some of the ingredients to avoid: chemicals, artificial sweeteners, refined white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, MSG, genetically modified ingredients and preservatives (indicated by the initials BHT, BHA, EDTA and THBQ). Buying and eating whole foods that your body can recognize and and use for nourishment is the best way to maintain vibrant health.


  • Set aside a few hours each week to prep foods to eat in the days ahead.

    Taking the time to do prep will make cooking healthy foods easy and enjoyable during this busy time of the year along with helping you avoid buying convenience foods with questionable ingredients. Securely store your produce in airtight containers. Lightly wash produce before using with natural vegetable wash, 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil blended with filtered water, or one part white vinegar to three parts filtered water. Make several homemade vinaigrettes or dressings to last all week so you can make leafy greens and vegetable salads in minutes. Clean and marinate enough meat or poultry for dinners over the next few days. Use your slow cooker so dinner will be ready when you get home.



Green smoothie with Spirulina and Raspberries

Green smoothie with spirulina and raspberries


  • Start your day with a whole foods smoothie.

    If you start your day with lots of high quality nutrition you won’t have as much motivation to indulge in foods throughout the day that aren’t so good for you. Whole foods smoothies are hydrating, nutrient-packed and easy to make. Simply cut and freeze organic fresh fruit to use in your smoothies. You can also buy frozen fruit that’s already cut up. Add organic kale, romaine lettuce or spinach, coconut water, organic raw milk or coconut kefir,  nut and seed milks, protein like pea or hemp protein, healthy fats like avocado or coconut butter plus natural sweeteners such as dates or raw honey for an energy-boosting beverage that will start your day off right. Try this tasty pineapple lime green smoothie.



wild Sockeyed salmon 485



      • For your holiday dinners, plan on making dishes that are both delicious and nutritious.

        Healthy foods are truly delicious and so good for you! Excellent examples are pasture-raised, wild turkey with sage and garlic, honey glazed roasted chicken, baked wild salmon with lemon and herbs, steamed leafy greens, roasted heirloom root vegetables drizzled with balsamic glaze, baked sweet potatoes topped with coconut oil, cinnamon, and coconut sugar, pureed winter squash soups, and desserts made with seasonal fruits, exotic spices like star anise, and healthy sweeteners like coconut sugar or raw honey.


  • Take healthy snacks to work.

    If you take healthy snacks with you to work, you won’t be tempted to overeat all the holiday treats that are in abundance during this season. Fresh or dried fruit, guacamole with vegetables, nuts, seeds, nut or seed butters, and kale chips are all fantastic options to take with you. If you get a dehydrator you can easily dehydrate fruits and vegetables and raw nuts or seeds that have been soaked in unrefined sea salt water (which removes anti-nutrients, kick-starts the germination process, and increases key vitamins), and you’ll have plenty of on-the-go healthy snacks with a long shelf life. Dehydrators are convenient and easy to use. Here’s my favorite brand.



Fermented Purple Cabbage and Orange Sauerkraut 

Fermented Purple Cabbage and Orange Sauerkraut



  • Make batches of fermented vegetables twice a month.

    I recommend that you eat fermented vegetables every day to keep your digestive system healthy. These fantastic vegetables will help keep your digestive system on track during the holidays. Fermented vegetables are loaded with probiotics – the good bacteria your intestines need. Mix a variety of organic vegetables such as carrots and celery into brine with warm filtered water, unrefined sea salt, and cultured vegetable starter or liquid whey, and mix with shredded cabbage heads. Pack the mixture into sterilized glass jars and allow the vegetables to ferment for five to seven days or longer. Once done fermenting, store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Here’s my recipe for fermented purple cabbage and orange sauerkraut and fermented lemon kale and savoy cabbage sauerkraut.


  • Don‘t forget to exercise and get enough sleep.

    It’s easy to put your exercise program on hold and not get enough sleep when you are busy shopping for gifts, planning and attending parties, and doing a million different activities at once. If you try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night and keep doing your daily exercise routine you will relieve the stress associated with the holidays, keep your cortisol level balanced, as well as burn off any extra calories you may be consuming during this time.


  • Stay hydrated.

    Stay hydrated with purified or spring water, and healthy beverage choices like herbal or green tea, fermented drinks, and herbal coffee. It is easy to get caught up in the holiday cheer and drink more alcoholic beverages than you normally do. But if you make an effort to exercise moderation with your alcohol intake  and alternate drinking alcoholic beverages with water, you will maintain alkalinity in your body experiencing better health and less weight gain. For a super healthy beverage choice, try my cinnamon coconut water kefir recipe.



  • Take time to relax and try to minimize stress.

    Finding time to relax and learning how to manage the demands during this busy time will make the holiday season more enjoyable for both you and your family. Try to avoid shopping at overcrowded malls during peak shopping hours, don’t schedule too many parties to attend, find time to experience gratitude daily, do deep breathing exercises, and follow the 12 tips I suggested and you’ll stay healthy and stress-free all holiday season.



What are some of your favorite tips for staying healthy and stress free during the holidays? Please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment.


If you enjoyed this post, and need more healthy inspiration and help, please check out my new cookbook that’s packed with 154 tasty whole foods recipes and over 50 pages of healthy lifestyle tips for more energy and better immunity! Deliciously Holistic is for sale on Amazon right now!



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  1. All I can say Shelley is YUMMY!

    When holidays roll around there is no need to cook unhealthy. Now I come from an Italian family where traditional foods can send you to the ER the next day lol.

    I changed those foods a long time ago so the kids got used to it. Everything organic, simple and home made. Thanks for these recipies…Love the fish!

    Donna Merrill recently posted..Using An Avatar When BloggingMy Profile

  2. Holidays are really stressful, especially if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself. It’s also easy to give yourself an excuse to overeat especially if you have several parties to go to in a day. Imagine doing that several times this month. No wonder I usually end up needing to take Tums when I have to attend a lot of parties. It’s always wise to eat a mini salad before you leave home. And by the way, the kale apple salad with pineapple hemp dressing looks really good. How do you make the dressing?
    Cherrie Bautista recently posted..Inspiring Kids to Have a More Meaningful ThanksgivingMy Profile

  3. I’ve got a lot of holiday parties this year and I loved your idea of eating a mini-meal prior to going. Willpower can be depleted – especially if I”m feeling a little tired or hungry (my personal downfalls) – and then it’s too easy to overdo on the “bad stuff.” I’ll start eating a little healthy mini-meal in advance and should be a lot easier. Thanks!

  4. What a wonderful blog post this is. I got to say one of my favorite tips is going to the farmers market. I am lucky enough to live in Chico, Ca where it actually has one of the top rated farmers markets in the nation 🙂 It s a wonderful place the whole community comes together. Being stress free can be hard during the most hectic time of the year but this list can help anyone get their head back on their shoulders!
    Kyle Nelson recently posted..5 Productivity Tips for EntrepreneursMy Profile

  5. What great advice… and sounds so obvious but a mini meal before going out…as this time of year the snacks are rich, fried and unhealthy and one does seem to over do it as you find you are trying to make a dinner out of unhealthy snacks… great advice Shelley!
    Sarupa Shah recently posted..Heart Centered Entrepreneur: how to rid yourself of problems (and increase your abundance)My Profile

  6. I think the biggest thing during the holidays for me, especially in maintaining my sanity (lol) is to put aside a generous amount of time for anything needed… like shopping for gifts, even if I am a last minute shopper. I don’t focus too much on the food as normally, this is a time that I allow a little sliding because the entire year has been dedicated to becoming healthier…lol. This coming year will be very intense on exercise, and using a personal trainer sometimes to keep me on track.
    Nile recently posted..WordPress 3.8 is Available!My Profile

    • Nile, I completely understand how you feel about making sure you set aside enough time to get everything done. I hope my tips will help you stay on track during this season of indulgences and I have a wonderful new detox program coming in January for the New Year that will really help keep you to stay clean and radiant in 2014!
      Shelley Alexander recently posted..Cherry Chia Raw Macaroon Cookies My Profile

  7. Shelley,

    You seem to have covered all the salient points to keeping fit over the holidays. I would add one more thing. It is the holidays and tasting some of the wonderful treats is NOT a sin. Moderation in everything we do. So having a small piece of pumpkin pie on A cookie will keep your spirits up without destroying your healthy eating. It shouldn’t be about suffering through the holidays. NOT having a taste can actually add to the stress. So, be generous to yourself, but not a glutton for punishment.

    Happy Holidays!

    Rick Lelchuk recently posted..Too Little, Too LateMy Profile

    • Rick, I totally agree that enjoying some wonderful sweet treats is not a sin. I adore cookies and pumpkin pie! I just recommend that you upgrade your recipes with better ingredients like my recipe for Cinnamon Almond Butter Cookies that don’t deplete your health and use moderation if you do indulge in foods and drinks that are not healthy so you can feel great throughout the holiday season. I would never suggest that you do anything to deprive yourself or cause additional stress for you or your family.
      Shelley Alexander recently posted..Cherry Chia Raw Macaroon Cookies My Profile

  8. I will allow myself a roast Christmas dinner with but I am so keen to manage my diabetes without meds that I now naturally avoid anything sweet. So I will bake for the family but resist the temptation (I hope). I find that if I give in I get a taste for it again and want more. Best not to have any at all.
    Sue Bride recently posted..How To Protect Your Blog From CopyingMy Profile

  9. Hi Shelley, I especially like your tip about eating a small healthy meal before going out, that’s a great idea! We did pretty good on Christmas day this year – because it’s always hot here, we usually have seafood and not the traditional roast (although my Grandma always made that). This year we had prawns for an entree and barbecued salmon and salads for the main. Then, we had gelati ice-cream for dessert.

    I wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
    Julieanne van Zyl recently posted..The Old Man Swims The LakeMy Profile

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