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How Nutrition Professionals Keep a Simple Holiday

The holidays are such a crazy time of year. Every year I think that I will slow down, be more present, buy fewer presents, and savor every moment.

In a nutshell, I want a simple holiday.

But the reality is, as a nutrition professional, I work like a dog right up to the holidays. For one, there are always big projects due before the holiday break.

It’s also crunch time for making all your past New Year’s resolutions a reality. Business as usual doesn’t apply because everyone’s trying to make their year-end goals, including me.

I’d be lying if I told you my holiday ducks were all in a row.

They’re not.

In fact, my Christmas tree stands naked in my living room. My holiday shopping list is long and mostly untouched and I haven’t even started any holiday baking yet.

What should I do? Stress out?!

That would be my usual response, but not this year. Not after the eye-opening realization I came to recently.

simple holiday

5 Tips for Keeping the Holidays Simple

I looked to some of my colleagues to give me their best tips for staying simple, sane and meaningful during the holiday season and I’ve gathered them here for you.

Many of these suggestions focus on the cooking aspect of the holidays (because who wants to slave away in the kitchen? Hint: Not this dietitian!), but a few tips tap into your mental outlook as well.

Keep Dinner Simple

“I keep dinner as simple as possible (all year round actually), especially when it comes to side dishes,” says Katie from Mom to Mom Nutrition. “Roasting in-season root vegetables this time of year takes minimal time and is something my kids love! Clean-up is a breeze too!” 

Use Time-Saving Ingredients

Katie Cavuto, RD—a chef and yogi (you should see her yoga poses…wow.)– has a few time-saving ingredients she keeps up her sleeve, which are especially handy during the holidays. A personal favorite of mine is pre-cubed butternut squash because who has time to peel and cut that sucker up? (…you might break your wrist doing so!).

Judy Barbe, RDN over at Live Best advocates keeping things simple by using ingredients you have on hand. No extra grocery shopping—yay!

Check out her delicious breakfast recipe for Orange Cranberry Tart

Batch Bake

“If I am going to several holiday parties, I might double, triple or even quadruple a recipe (last year, I made four apple breads at once!), so that I get most of my baking done at once,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN and blogger for Weight Watchers. “I also shop year-round so that by the time the holidays come, I need to buy only a small percentage of my gifts. When I see something that’s perfect for someone on my gift list, I pick it up right then.”

Now that has always been an intention for me each year, but I almost never succeed…

As an extension of this strategy, batch-cooking also helps. I do this all year long because I have working nights and a busy schedule with high school athletes. 

Dixya Bhattarai, RD uses the same tactic and I can totally relate to her rationale: “I usually have a few freezer friendly and slow cooker based meals handy so I won’t have to worry about being in the kitchen all the time,” she says. Yup, that about sums it up for me.

De-Stress Intentionally

When I read this post from Marie Dittmer, I was smiling, because I know the stress that comes from those last minute kid illnesses and broken bones. Truth is– when do these crises ever occur at a convenient time? What I like about Marie’s plan is that she has several ways to cut down on stress, and I think that’s key because having a bunch of tools to pull from can really work. Exercise is my big de-stressor. Check out Marie’s 9 Ways to De-Stress and put a few of them in your toolbox.  

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Ever feel like you’re faced with too many decisions to make, and all you really want to do is make none of them? When I get stressed and have too many items on my to-do list—or too many projects, ideas, or deadlines—I feel incapable, indecisive, and scatter-brained. Life coach and registered dietitian, Chere Bork, has 5 simple secrets to making decisions that bring peace and joy, despite the chaos of the holidays. Check them out!

What’s your secret to keeping the holidays simple, sane and meaningful?

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  1. I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for posting it. Some holidays changes I’ve done over the past few years that have really reduced stress are having the holiday meal not the main holiday day (in our case Dec 25th). This has allowed me to really enjoy the day with my family and feel relaxed and everyone is just as happy with the reheated holiday meal than one straight from the oven. Another much more recent stress reducer is that we stopped buying gifts for family members and put more focus on creating memories. We use to have a family meal and gift exchange for each side of our families (we always host due to one child’s multiple allergies) but now we have a day were family comes for the whole day; we eat crock pot chilli, play games and watch holiday movies together. We have all discovered that these memories are worth more than any gift we use to buy and it doesn’t feel like chore as we all look forward to being together in such a relaxed manner. The last is that we greatly reduced what we purchased for our kids and my husband and I stopped buying for each other. We truly feel that our children will be living in a very different world then we have and that mass consumerism simply won’t be an environmental option, so we choose to alter their perceptions around the holidays now and they have shifted holiday gears with complete ease. Would love to hear what works for others too!