Staying Healthy Through the Holidays

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A Holiday Treat! Welcome our guest to The Parsley Way, health coach Donna Morin of Better Off Well, answering a question often asked at this time of year.
How do I stay healthy through the holiday season?
It’s a question that makes me chuckle because I know I am not the guru who has figured out how to say no to the pumpkin pie or the home-baked bread or the mashed potatoes with savory mushroom gravy or the….well, you get the point. I love to eat and I love good food.
But while I salivate over candied walnuts with the rest of you, I have made a number of strategies part of my lifestyle habits so that holidays don’t destroy the health I’ve built up over the years. It’s too important for me not to.
The best advice I can share is to start by listening to your body. It has an intelligence all its own and if you listen very carefully, you might find you learn a lot.
How can you do this?


Ask the BIG question.
WHY do you want to make good choices over the holidays? Why it that important to you? Do you have children you want to be a good role model for? Who you want to stay active with? Do you feel better when you eat certain foods versus others? Are there things on your bucket list you want to do that require you to have energy? Have you been living in pain and you don’t want to any longer?
Asking yourself these questions brings you to a place of awareness. When we bring awareness to our choices, particularly AS we are making them, we give ourselves space to make the ones that serve us best. And here’s an important piece…if the reason for wanting to make good choices through the holidays is all about your weight- that number on the scale- good luck with that. Until we dig deeper to find out why it’s important to feel good, the number on the scale will rule our lives and distract us from making sustainable change.


Take a deep breath…actually take many.

Too often in our lives we run on fumes. We plan for tomorrow before today has even begun. We live in yesterday while worrying about a fictional reality of the future that we have played out in our heads.
It’s enough to make anyone want to jump into the red velvet cheesecake and never come out again.
While stress has its advantages and keeps us focused when we need to be, chronic stress does a number on our bodies. It messes with the hormones that help us to sleep, that tell us when we are full, and that make us feel good about ourselves, just as we are.
During the hustle and bustle of this season, take a few minutes- even three makes a difference- every day to just stop. Breathe. Deeply. Buddha belly on the inhale; pull in your belly on the exhale. Detach your shoulders from your ears.

Be here. Right now.
This may not be the standard holiday advice you were looking for, the kind that tells you to use smaller plates when you eat, to avoid socializing in the kitchen, and to use an app to count your calories. Sure, those things can help, along with exercise, hydration, and getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but it’s when we begin to go to deeper places of mindfulness and presence that we understand ourselves better. We love ourselves better.
I started to give myself a little love 10 years ago, and it has made all the difference. Through consistent mindfulness practices, I have gotten to know my body much better. In fact, we’re pretty tight now. There are certain foods that make me feel great, and ones that make me feel like I went on a bender. There is a life force in whole foods that keeps me going unlike any processed food ever could.
My body is great about telling me when it’s not happy, and I am doing a much better job listening. For me, that’s the best gift I can give myself this holiday season.

Donna Morin is a certified health coach, writer, founder of Better Off Well Coaching & Consulting Services, and Board President for the Savvy Women’s Alliance. Find more tips and recipes through


Photos Claire Mauro


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