Top Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays
It’s the season to be jolly, but it’s also the season we tend to overindulge and not practice healthy choices IF we let ourselves. This festive time of year is meant to be enjoyed while spending quality time with family and friends. There’s an unfortunate modern-day stigma clinging to the holidays that you will always overeat, gain weight, drink too much or allow your chronic illness to spiral out of control. This leads to the neverending cycle of new year health resolutions. These top tips for staying healthy during the holidays will help you feel less guilt and more enjoyment!
If you are suffering from diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol or inflammatory diseases like arthritis, you are probably dreading the festive season. Staying healthy during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays does not mean you have to torture yourself and not partake in the festive fun. If you are aware of what types of foods or activities trigger flare-up disease symptoms, you can try to plan ahead, work around them, or just partake in moderation. It is also possible to maintain healthy eating habits during the holidays, and you would be surprised how implementing a few simple tips can help you stay healthy and in control.
1. Fill up on seasonal vegetables and fruits
Make sure you keep to the 5-a-day rule where you eat five portions of vegetables a day. Fruit in moderation is also a great way to get your nutrients. A higher fruit and vegetable intake will help you to keep your immune system in good shape, aid digestion and help reduce your refined food intake that can lead to inflammation. Certain vegetables are low in carbohydrates, such as brussels sprouts, asparagus, and leafy greens, and eating these can help you keep your calorie and carb count down (if you are counting).
2. Don’t deprive yourself
Eat when you are hungry and opt for nutrient-dense foods. If you think you should skip breakfast or lunch because you will be going to a party or eating a large festive meal in the evening, that may work for you. For some people, however, skipping meals can leave you with plummeting energy levels and will have your body craving a high-calorie snack to boost them again. It can also cause you to overeat when you finally decide to eat. Although, conversely, some people find they do better if they save their calories for one meal, especially if they are doing a fast. If that works for you- great! You have to find the tricks that help you and then use them!
3. Eat your proteins and vegetables first
Protein can make you feel fuller quicker. So, eat the vegetables and protein on your plate first and see if you have any space for what’s left. Because you feel fuller you might opt for a smaller portion of mashed potatoes or pie.
4. Eat before you go to a party
It’s a good idea to eat before you actually go to a party. Parties involve a lot of opportunities to snack on empty calorie foods and if you’ve eaten a bit beforehand, you will snack less and opt for smaller portion sizes when you eat your main meal. If you do get hungry, snack on the veggie platter and the meat and cheese platters. You’ll likely fill up quicker and stay full longer.
5. Limit your alcohol intake
Carefully plan what alcohol you will be drinking over the holidays. Red wine is lower in calories than beer and cocktails. It is also full of antioxidants and may be healthy for you if you drink one glass. Excess alcohol is turned into sugar which then goes straight to your waistline. Drink in moderation and never on an empty stomach.
6. Keep moving, stay active
One of the best tips for staying healthy during the holidays is to keep moving. Go for a walk after a meal or continue doing your morning yoga routine. If you stay sedentary while increasing your food intake, you are bound to experience some form of weight gain. Recruit your friends and family to join you on a nature hike or even just to go out and build a snowman if you live in the colder climates.
7. Eat your dessert but be mindful
Should you eat dessert? Yes, deprivation isn’t what we want you to experience. But, be mindful of your portion size and think before going back for seconds. Enjoy every bite, chew it at least 30 times, and you’ll feel more satisfied after just eating one piece.
8. Plan which ingredients you are going to buy
If you are in charge of cooking or have to prepare some of your own food in between meals, a bit of planning can go a long way. Plan your meals according to the 5-a-day rule and try to avoid using refined sugars and carbohydrates. Also, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. You will end up buying everything that looks tasty.
9. Move away from the food table
When you are attending a party try to sit or stand far away from the buffet. Take those conversations outside, or somewhere away from the food. This will stop you from snacking almost as a reflex when you are standing close. Pick a small plate and add your vegetables to it first.
10. Get enough sleep to stay rested
During the festive season, you may be trying your best to eat healthy foods, but your efforts may go to waste if you don’t get enough sleep. Staying out later and cutting back on sleep can affect your body’s ability to heal and repair itself. Getting a good night’s rest can also balance out your hunger hormones and promote good digestion.
11. Keep a lookout for empty-calorie, processed foods and swap them for nutrient-dense foods
Educate yourself on foods that have no nutritional value and only contain empty calories. These include sodas, fried foods, cakes, and processed sweets. Rather swap them for a healthy alternative like a hand full of berries or almonds packed with anti-inflammatory properties.
12. Less is more when you’re trying to stay healthy during the holidays
Stop eating when you start feeling full. If you have too much food on your plate, don’t feel pressured to finish it. You’ll thank yourself in twenty minutes once your food has time to settle and you won’t have such feelings of regret if you feel stuffed.
13. Learn how to say no
Don’t feel pressured to eat everything on the festive buffet. Sometimes you will just have to politely decline a piece of your aunt’s legendary pumpkin pie because you have already eaten two pieces of your grandmother’s fruit cake with custard.
14. There are always leftovers
You don’t have to eat everything you see right away. There will be leftovers, there always are. Don’t overeat now, have some later.
What are your tricks or tips for staying on track during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below! You can read more tips at an earlier post we did HERE.
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