This Doctor Has 7 Tips For Staying Healthy and On Track During the Holidays
Dr. Scott Stoll, a sports doctor and founder of the Plantrician Project, is a big believer in eating healthy, plant-based foods and created a resource for other doctors to share their experience in helping patients eat that way as well. Here, he shares his top tips for staying healthy during the holidays. This year we are all being especially careful not to host or attend big gatherings, but even a scaled-down Thanksgiving, presents plenty of temptation to overdo it on the pumpkin pie. Whether you are signing onto the family meal virtually or attending a scaled-back gathering with fewer cousins around the table, the eating season is one when it's too easy to break our usual resolve and eat all the wrong foods, especially now, when stress is high.
The Plantrician Project was founded by doctors to help people eat a healthy diet of whole plant-based foods, for heart health, to lower the risk of diseases like diabetes, and for longevity. They define their mission this way: To educate, equip, and empower our physicians, healthcare providers, and other health influencers with knowledge about the indisputable benefits of whole food plant-based nutrition.
Along with sticking to your resolve to eat a plant-based diet of mostly whole foods and stay healthy, here are 7 tips to being your healthiest, while still eating well, this holiday season.
Elysabeth: Can you give us tips for staying healthy during the holidays?
1. Don’t Go It Alone
Dr. Scott Stoll: I encourage people to build a community around being healthy. Enlist a supportive friend to help you stay on track or stick with your health goals. I can’t stress that enough because we are all facing challenges, or temptations and cravings and trying to overcome [them] can be really, really challenging if you’re doing it alone.
Encouraging a friend by saying, ‘Hey we’re going to be healthy together as we go through this holiday season,” Just that step alone can help you make better choices than you would make if you try to do it on your own and depend upon your own self will. You know, that alone can make the holidays very successful.
2. A Brand New Day (AKA The Sun Also Rises)
Dr. Stoll: The second thing I like to encourage people to do is give yourself grace in the midst of the holidays, too. In the midst of facing these challenges, eating a couple bites of cake or pie, can lead to taking on guilt and judgingn ourselves. That alone begins to set this downward spiral in motion, where you’re much more likely to say, ‘Well, it’s over now. I never had any self-discipline. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I give up.’
Instead of making that deep dive or giving up, it's important to give yourself grace. If you have that one dessert, or whatever happens during the holiday, you get a fresh start the next day. The sun comes up. It’s a brand new day, and you get to start fresh. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, because you have brand new choices that you can make today.
3. Don’t Take It Home
Dr. Stoll: Set yourself up for success at home. That’s most important aspect in our home environment is to create a safe healthy home. So, if you receive two dozen cookies from Aunt Marge and someone else sends you chocolate and you start to get all this unhealthy stuff, I encourage you to not even take it home. You can sometimes give it or throw it away. I used to do this: I would pretend that I ate it and then I just threw it away.
It’s better in the garbage than actually in my home because we know if we put it on the counter, it will be gone faster than I ever wanted it to be eaten. Realize that the power of food is more powerful than our own willpower. So don't set yourself up to fight that battle at home. We just won't win. So, if you get fiven treats, leave it somewhere, or give it away, but just don’t take it home.
4. Prep Early and Often
Dr. Stoll: Fill your house with wonderful delicious healthy options that you love. Do some prep work ahead of the holidays to cook healthy food. Have it in a container in your refrigerator. Have things in your pantry that are easy go-to meals. Have meals ou’ve frozen available when you’re busy.
A little bit of work in the upfront weeks of November, putting a few things in place or even ordering some healthy meals and keeping them in your freezer will really set you up for success as you face that busy, busy holiday season that’s inevitable as we enter into the later part of November and December.
5. Steer Clear of Holiday Cheer (AKA the Punch Bowl)
Dr. Scott Stoll: I encourage people if you want to have a glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage, that’s fine. Do it occasionally, when you're out or with a friend, but again don't keep alcohol at home because it’s so tempting to go back and have another (and another). And drinking is often tied to eating. As people drink alcohol, they're more likely to start activating some of those "reward circuits" and craving other foods and reaching for the wrong things. So, I encourage if you want to enjoy alcohol, do it one day, but don’t keep it at home.
6. Be a Great Guest – Bring Your Own Plant-Based Food (BYOPBF)
Dr. Stoll: There’s always hummus at a party, folks, which is always a good go-to. I always tell people because I teach classes called Jumpstart Your Plantbased Life, that one of the tips for going to parties, no matter what the season, is to bring your own food! The hostess or host will love you, and say Thank You for helping them. And then you know that you can always eat what you bring.
Good guacamole with tomatoes and tabasco and onions, or healthy carrots and celery sticks and hummus are great options. Plus, there are so many different kinds of hummus you can make; Sweet potato hummus, or regular hummus. And that’s just an easy simple thing, you know. I’m just thinking of dips, but there are so many other things you can make, like a Brussels Sprouts salad. Make the stuff that you can eat so that when you go to that party, you’re not eating all the other stuff, you’re eating the stuff that you made, so you know it’s good for you.
7. Give the Gift of Encouragement
Dr. Scott Stoll: The holiday season is joyful for many, but it’s also very stressful. And I always encourage people: Use your words to speak life into somebody else’s life as frequently and as often as you possibly can because we just don’t hear that very often in this world.
It’s rare that somebody will walk up to you and say, “You know what? You are really amazing and I appreciate your creative gift. And I appreciate the way you’re able to set a table and make people feel so welcome.” Even in the holiday season, I want to encourage all of you to look for as many opportunities as you can, whether it’s online, in your personal lives, or work life, to speak life to people. It’s so wonderful because our words are like seeds and when we plant those in people, we will yield a harvest of joy in their lives.
For the full interview, click here.
Elysabeth Alfano is a plant-based business consultant and an expert for mainstream media, breaking down the plant-based health, food, culture, business, and environmental news.