Ditch the guilt…7 Tips for a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season
By Lauren Stobbie, Health and Fitness Program Supervisor
With the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s easy to start slacking on your workouts and overindulging in all the holiday food. The average American gains around 5 pounds over the course of the holiday season. But is it possible to partake in some of your favorite foods without overindulging, feeling guilty, and experiencing the lack of energy that accompanies it? It certainly is and there’s no reason to wait for New Years to make those healthy changes. Keep reading for some tips to make this holiday season a healthy and happy one!
- Limit the treats. One of the biggest mistakes people make during the holidays is overdoing it on all the treats. When the holiday season approaches, there comes a surplus of parties, dinners, and additional sugary treats around the office. Just because treats are available on a daily basis throughout the holidays, doesn’t mean you have to indulge in them. Limiting your splurges to once or twice a week and watching your sugar intake will help to keep the holiday weight off and your energy levels up.
- Make time to move your body. At this point in the year most people tend to slack off or give up on their exercise goals and plan to recommit after the New Year. One of the best ways to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy throughout the holidays is to make sure to get daily movement in! Even doing 30 minutes of an activity you enjoy 3 days a week can make a big difference on your health. And if you don’t feel like heading to the gym, go outside for a bike ride, walk, or play a game of tag or catch with the kids. Moving your body is important — exercise helps to reduce stress and improve quality of sleep, both which provide you the mental stamina and physical energy needed to get through your busy days leading up to and throughout the holidays.
- Snack healthy. With all the rushing around during the holidays, it’s easy to go for the box of cookies sitting out at the office or grab a pretzel or cinnamon roll at the mall during your holiday shopping. If you know you’re going to be out of the house for a while, make sure to keep some healthy snacks on you. Good options include protein bars, trail mix, raw veggies, or Greek yogurt. These snacks can help to control your hunger throughout the day without overdoing it before social gatherings, office parties, or the main meal on holidays.
- Make healthy recipe swaps. Have you ever swapped mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, or used Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, or sweetened your dessert with stevia or honey instead of granulated sugar? Simple recipe swaps such as these can make a huge difference in terms of the amount of calories, fat, and sugar in your meals. Pick your favorite holiday recipe and do a Google search placing the word “healthy” in front of it…you’ll come up with a surplus of healthier recipes to choose from!
- Eat mindfully. When surrounded by family and friends at holiday meals and parties, it’s easy to get caught up socializing and not even realize how much or what you’ve been eating all day. Slow down when you are eating and take the time to choose the food you really want to eat instead of just eating all the food because it is available. Stay mindful of how you nourish your body. Actively focus on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite.
- Don’t drink your calories. It’s easy to consume over 1,000 calories in liquid before you even realize it. Stay away from the juices, sodas, and punches that are loaded with calories and sugar, usually leading to additional sugar cravings throughout the day. Instead choose unsweetened iced tea, coffee, hot tea, and water. Try to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water a day to make sure you are staying hydrated. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces of water per day.
- Lose the guilt. Whether you are indulging in foods you don’t usually consume or you completely overdid it on the dessert table, the last thing you should do is put yourself down and feel guilty about it. Get rid of those negative voices in your head. Don’t let one day of indulgence fill you with guilt. During the holidays we eat food that may not be available other times of the year and it’s meant to be enjoyed. Just remember that tomorrow is a new day to get back on track with your normal, healthy eating routine.
Stay tuned over the next 8 weeks as we provide you with healthy recipe swaps that you can make for your family and friends! Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!