The holidays can be the most exciting time of the year; a time for celebration, togetherness, and fresh starts. But, amidst the chaos of visiting family, attending parties, and planning for travel, it’s easy to sacrifice a healthy lifestyle for the fun of the festivities. Here are a few tips we’ve come up with to help you have a healthy holiday this season.
The holiday buffets and celebratory drinks give even the most disciplined healthy eaters a run for their money. Under bulky sweaters and between holiday galas, it’s not uncommon to gain 5-10 pounds during the holiday season.
Here are some ways you can maintain your healthy eating habits:
- Don’t deprive yourself. Indulge in moderation. Stick to the serving size, and indulge only in the holiday treats you love the most.
- Bring a healthy option to holiday buffets and parties.
- Cook healthy meals at home. Opt for healthy meals at home so that you can eat more freely at parties. Take advantage of seasonal fruit and veggies like squash, apples, and beets.
- Limit liquid calories. Alcoholic beverages, holiday drinks, and coffee drinks can have a lot of hidden calories. Make sure you pay attention to the beverages you’re choosing.
- Keep healthy snacks in your car. Keep a healthy snack on hand just in case. Popcorn, dried seaweed, whole fruit, nuts, and healthy energy bars are good non-refrigerated options.
A big glass of water doesn’t sound nearly as appealing in the middle of winter as it does on a sunny summer day, but it’s just as important. Water helps your body stay healthy in a number of ways.
- Regulates body temperature In the winter, your body has to work extra hard to maintain a healthy body temperature, and hydration plays a key role.
- Boosts your immune system. Water helps prevent you from getting sick during the cold and flu season.
- Curbs your appetite. Drinking water helps you feel full.
- Keeps your skin and lips hydrated.
Tips for staying hydrated:
- Keep a bottle of water in your car, on your desk, in your bag, etc.
- Warm up periodically throughout the day with a hot cup of tea.
- Match each alcoholic and caffeinated beverage with a glass of water and limit your intake of all non-water beverages.
- Eat foods with a high water content (Lettuce, celery, apples).
If you’re finding yourself reapplying lip balm, or lotion, or battling dry eyes this holiday season, increase your water intake. The best way to hydrate is from the inside, out.
Staying active is important to your overall health year-round. Take the opportunity to fight cabin fever and stay active by:
- Joining a gym or an indoor exercise class.
- Opting for season-appropriate hobbies that will keep you active, such as sledding, ice-skating, snowball fights, and snow sports.
- Planning an active holiday party. Instead of having people over for drinks and food this winter, pair it with an activity, like a snowman building competition.
There are plenty of fun activities available in the wintertime, and a number of health benefits to staying active, including:
- Relieving stress: When you exercise, you release dopamine, which is your “happy hormone”. Exercising in the winter can help you reduce your risk of seasonal depression and elevate your mood.
- Increasing your energy level: Exercising is a great way to fight fatigue and boost your energy level, even for individuals suffering from chronic medical conditions associated with fatigue like cancer and heart disease.
- Promoting healthy sleep: Those with chronic insomnia can benefit from exercise. This is at least partially due to the extreme drop in body temperature post-workout which triggers your body to fall asleep. Better sleep after a workout is also linked to the stress-relieving benefits of exercise.
In addition to the physical benefits of exercising, staying active during the holiday season also gives you a chance to form unforgettable memories with your family and friends through fun wintertime activities.
Stay safe by speaking with your physician before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Between the holiday parties, budget-busting holiday gifts, commitments to friends and family, holiday responsibilities, and work vacations that require overtime pre-holiday, the holidays can be a stressful time of year. In addition to exercise, here are a few ways to have a mentally healthy holiday by managing stress.
- Say no. Do less, enjoy more. Saying yes to more fun activities doesn’t necessarily mean having more fun. You don’t have time to attend every holiday gala, so learn to say no. The holidays are busy enough, so prioritize the people that are closest to you, and say no to the rest.
- Help others. The holidays are a wonderful time to give to charity or to make a kind gesture to those in need. Volunteer to work at a soup kitchen, or give a gift to someone who is less fortunate. A great way to de-stress is to focus your attention on bringing joy to someone else.
- Low- impact exercises, like Yoga, or walking, can give you a moment to yourself, help you clear your mind, and bring oxygen to your brain to help you stay sharp and relaxed.
- Forget perfection. If the house becomes cluttered, if you ruined the main dish, or if you don’t have time to make the perfect place setting, laugh it off. Perfection is not achievable; don’t sweat the small stuff!
- Learn how to delegate. If you are feeling swamped, delegate the small stuff. Chances are, those around you will be happy to help.
- Turn off your phone. When you’re on vacation, you don’t need to be glued to your phone. Designate an hour in the day to answer emails, rather than answering them as soon as you get a notification. Go tech-free as often as possible, and spend time with the people around you without the constant interruption.
By staying hydrated, eating nutritious meals, staying active and finding a way to relieve stress that works for you, you can focus your energy on enjoying the company of family and friends during the holidays. As always, talk to your physician, or a physician at WWMG, for additional, personalized tips on having a healthy holiday and maintaining healthy habits throughout the rest of the year.
If you’re interested in taking an educational course to help you make and maintain healthy habits during the holidays and as a permanent lifestyle, contact us to learn about our AIM to Live Well Program. The purpose of this classroom program is to educate and transform individuals to help them live with AIM: Awareness, Intention, and Meaning.