5 strategies to help you feel your best

Written by Jenn Messina, Registered Dietitian

Holiday season is in full swing and with all of the magic often comes a lot of stress! With the never-ending to-do list, the events, parties, dinners, and more it can feel overwhelming to try to take care of yourself in the meantime. So let me simplify and help you with my top 5 strategies to help you feel your best:

Cropped view of woman holding bowl full vegetables over served dinner table with tasty homemade food and preparing for celebrating holidays and birthday with family
  1. Eat regularly: Don’t starve yourself all day in preparation for special events.  Remember it’s ok to enjoy food and there is no need to eat less during the day, or the next day to make up for the food you’re enjoying. Restricting our intake during the day can lead to rapid swings in blood sugars which can affect hunger hormones and lead to eating quickly (and possibly overeating). It can also feel super uncomfortable to go from ravenously hungry to stuffed to the brim in minutes. Your digestive system won’t like you here.
  1. Plan ahead to make sure you are eating meals & snacks to fuel your days, especially when you won’t be exactly sure what foods will be served at your event. Eating within the first few hours of waking up and then around every 3-4 hours will help you feel your best (you may need to set a reminder on your phone here!). Plan to fill these with lots of veggies & fruits, protein and healthy fats, like:
    • Overnight oats with chopped apple, cinnamon, hemp hearts or chia seeds
    • Leftover veggie chili topped with sliced avocado + warm bun
    • Greek yogurt with granola, sliced banana, pears and nuts
    • Whole grain English muffin with egg, avocado & feta + side of grape tomatoes & carrot sticks
    • Hummus + veggies + whole grain cracker plate
  1. Take Mindful Pauses: Slow down, check in with your body every now and again. Put your fork and knife down. Have a sip of water and take a deep breath. What is your body telling you? How hungry are you? Give yourself a chance to feel the sensations in your body and recognize and respond to them.
  1. Manage stress: It can be easy to get swept away in the hustle & bustle of the season. Consider what helps you relax and schedule these into your calendar. Whether that means unplugging for an hour or two, getting together with friends for a walk, writing in a journal, or booking a yoga class. Take some time for yourself and think of it like an appointment you need to keep.
  2. Move your body: Getting your body moving (ideally outside) will also help you manage stress in a healthy way. Consider what type of movement you actually enjoy? Choose exercises that make you feel good, and you can do regularly. Even if it’s just a 20-minute walk outside. Move your body for joy not as a punishment for what you ate. Remember you don’t need to earn your food.

Jenn Messina is a Registered Dietitian based in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. Jenn is passionate about all aspects of holistic health and practices through the lens of Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating. She works with individuals who are ready to break up with dieting and find balance and joy with food! She also works with families looking to support their children to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.  Follow her on Instagram: @jennthedietitian and visit her online

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When I toss romaine hearts into my shopping cart, chances are I'm heading home to make my family’s favourite salad. Every cook should know the joy of crafting a true Caesar salad while avoiding the also-ran dressings at the supermarket that never quite measure up to the real thing. Over time we’ve experimented with lots of additional flavours in this salad but, more often than not, I toss in lots of fresh basil leaves and brightly flavoured cherry tomatoes. What a great way to fill Half Your Plate! SERVES 4 TO 6 For the croutons 1 baguette, cut into large bite-sized cubes 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water 1/4 cup (60 mL) of your best olive oil For the dressing 6 thick slices of bacon, finely cut 1/4 cup (60 mL) of extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup (60 mL) of Dijon mustard 4 cloves of garlic a full 2-ounce (50 g) can of anchovies the zest and juice of 2 lemons 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of honey a dash or two of your favourite hot sauce For the salad 3 hearts of romaine lettuce, rinsed and sliced into bite sized pieces 1 large bunch of basil leaves 2-ounces or so of Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved into thin pieces with a vegetable peeler 1 pound of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Turn on your convection fan if you have one. Begin with the croutons. Sprinkle the bread cubes with water and toss until evenly absorbed. Continue tossing with the oil until it too is absorbed. Spread the works out on a baking tray and bake until the croutons are crispy, crunchy and thoroughly golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and cool while you prepare the rest of the salad. Make the dressing. Toss the bacon and a big splash of water into a pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the bacon is fully browned and evenly crispy, 10 minutes or so. Strain off the bacon bits and reserve for garnishing. Reserve all, some or none of the tasty fat. Measure the oil, Dijon, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest and juice, honey and hot sauce into your blender or food processor. Add the reserved bacon fat. Purée until smooth. Make the salad. In a large salad bowl toss together the romaine leaves, basil leaves, croutons and tomatoes. Pour in the dressing and toss the works until the salad is evenly dressed. Top with the bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve and share! Freestyle Flavour You can easily elevate this salad into an entire meal by adding lots of your favourite protein. Try grilling off a few chicken breasts and thinly slicing them into the works. A filet or two of salmon, grilled steak, pork tenderloin, even chunks of tofu can be added for a full protein kick.
Basil Caesar Salad

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