How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays and All Year Long
Here come the holidays! Are you ready? Like anything else in life, it's good to be proactive about what's to come. Don't let yourself get caught off guard this holiday season and derail into too many unhealthy habits—which is incredibly easy to do this time of year. Instead, stay focused on maintaining a healthy and happy you. These quick and easy tips can help you stay on track toward healthfulness not only though the holidays but all year long.
Indulge (but not too much)
It's the holidays. 'Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry. However, you do want to be mindful and choose your indulgences carefully. With all of the food, drink and sweet treats laid out before you, it's so easy to overdo it. That's where allowing yourself to enjoy the things you really love is perfectly fine—but mindfully choosing those things really matters. It's tempting to go hog wild, but we all know how that ends! Choose wisely and be selective about what you put on your plate, especially at holiday parties and dinners. If you know you're having a big holiday dinner, opt for a healthy, light breakfast and lunch to compensate for the extra calories later.
Eating slower has been proven to help you pay more attention to your fullness level and feel more satisfied with a smaller portion. Two tips that help you do this are to put your fork down between bites and to take your time while eating. It takes 20 minutes for our stomach to tell our brain that we are full. Studies have proven that people who are in tune to what they are eating and take their time are more likely to eat less and feel satisfied sooner, rather than overeating and feeling bloated after the meal. But slowing down isn't just about eating. Everything seems more rushed and frantic during the holiday season. Give yourself permission to take it easy and slow the pace.
It's easy to feel too busy to keep to your normal exercise routine this time of year, but it's actually a time when you need the physical activity the most. Try to plan for physical activities and squeeze in exercise whenever and wherever you can. It's one of the best ways to keep yourself feeling good during what can be some stressful, busy times where you're prone to feel rundown and burned out. Exercise is also a great way to counter those extra calories and indulgences. Whether it's an after-dinner walk, a quick hop on the treadmill, or any kind of activity that gets you up and moving, it's very important to just do it.
Not only is alcohol full of empty calories, but it's also known to be an appetite stimulant—making you more likely to eat more or eat things you wouldn't normally consume because your inhibitions are lowered. That is a bad combination! It's perfectly fine to enjoy an adult beverage or two, but it's good practice to make sure you eat something first so you have something in your stomach to act as a buffer. Nuts, hummus and other healthy but filling snacks are great choices. Another good strategy is to drink a glass of water between cocktails to slow your pace and to stay well hydrated (more on that next).
It's easy to confuse thirst with hunger, leading to mindless snacking that never satiates. To make sure you're staying hydrated, experts recommend drinking half your body weight in water. So if you weigh 140 pounds, aim for 70 ounces of water over the course of the day. It sounds like a lot, but it's a goal to aim toward. For added detoxification, try adding ginger or lemon. It's easy to let water intake go unnoticed during the cooler winter months but it's really important you don't. Hydration also keeps our mucus membranes wet and helps ward off sickness. Drinking enough water is also important for feeling your best, helping to counter fatigue and energy loss.
Be Proactive Toward Wellness
"The germs on your hands are the single biggest threat to your health, any time of year," says Marc Leavey, MD. That's because cold viruses tend to spread more from hand-to-mouth contact than through airborne droplets. When you're out and about, be sure to have a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer with you and wash your hands often with soap and water. But that's not all you can do to fight off illness. If you run yourself ragged and don't get a good night's sleep, you risk getting ill just because you've worn down your body's defenses. People who sleep at least eight hours nightly are about three times less likely to catch a cold than those who snooze for less than seven.
The Moderation Mantra
Moderation is a great mantra for the holiday season. There's a fine line between restricting yourself too much and feeling like you're missing out to overindulging and regretting it shortly after, knowing that what you overindulged in wasn't really worth it. Stay mindful and be aware of your choices, as you keep a focus on enjoying yourself while also practicing healthful habits. It sounds kind of silly, but many people don't even realize when they're eating. Taking the time to choose food you really want to eat and then actively focusing on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite will naturally help you slow down and stop when you're full.
Take Time for You
How can you take care of others if you aren't taking care of yourself? You can't. If you’re feeling tired, you risk exhaustion and increasing your level of stress. Between shopping, cooking and entertaining, make sure you take a moment or two each day to just relax and clear your head. A few moments are all you need to unwind and recharge. Take an evening walk, listen to relaxing music, soak in a hot bubble bath, rent the movie you’ve been wanting to see, lose yourself in a good book, treat yourself to a massage, or just do something you love. There are many ways to take some time out and pamper yourself. Whatever it may be, just do it!
WHAT'S your top tip for STAYing HEALTHY and happy OVER THE HOLIDAYS?
We want to hear about it! Our comment section is open. Cheers to the best holiday season yet!