The holidays are a way to spend time with friends and family and enjoy some home-cooked meals around the table. However, these meals may often be a change to your regular diet and health. Just because it is the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to worry or feel bad about the calories or nutrients (or lack thereof) you are consuming. Here are eight tips to continue your yearlong healthy habits into the holiday season.
1. Eat healthy before you go out.
Stop the cravings before they even start by eating a healthy mini-meal, so you don’t start the night by sitting down at the table starving. By doing this, you are likely to consume healthier portions too. Incorporate some protein, vegetables, and healthy fats and starches to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
2. Continue to prioritize exercise in your schedule.
It is no secret that the holiday season is busy, but don’t let this deter you from missing your exercise sessions. Plan your workouts into your schedule and treat them like you would any other appointment or event.
3. One meal won’t “make” or “break” your health.
Keep each meal in perspective and remember that going back for seconds or thirds of your mom’s pumpkin pie won’t make or break your diet or nutrition. However, two straight months of overindulging will. As a rule, try to eat healthy most of the time, and view every meal as an opportunity to get back on track. And don’t forget, no one has a perfect diet.
4. Bring a healthy dish to share.
While everyone typically brings a savory meal or a rich dessert, you can bring a healthier option to the table. Consider bringing a vegetable tray or a fruit platter to encourage the whole table to eat healthy.
5. Keep the healthy leftovers, throw out the unhealthy ones.
As tempting as leftovers may be during the holiday season, they can quickly fill your fridge, and you may feel pressure to consume them before they expire. However, if you only keep the healthy leftovers, such as vegetable or fruit platters, you avoid late-night temptations to devour the pumpkin pie.
6. Pack some traveling snacks.
If your holiday festivities are a considerable distance from home, consider the benefits of packing healthy snacks for the car, to curb any cravings before you get to the event. Consider snacks that are easy for traveling, such as granola, or fruit.
7. Drink water.
The holidays may be an enticing time to drink with family and friends or indulge in rich or sugary beverages, but these often lack nutritional value and equate to empty or fattening calories. Of course, one or two drinks won’t hurt, but drinking enough water is essential during the holidays. The more hydrated you are, the more efficiently your body works at tasks that range from thinking to burning body fat.
8. Get enough sleep.
A study found that people who slept at least eight hours per night were nearly three times less likely to catch a cold than those who slept less than seven. Sleep also impacts weight, because you’re more likely to turn to sugary drinks to wake up, and you may be too tired to exercise. In general, a lack of sleep causes the brain to make bad decisions.
Overall, the holidays can be stressful between a busy schedule and a change of diet. But don’t let this stop you from enjoying quality time with friends and family and savoring a good meal. At the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, we encourage our members and community to stay healthy and take care of their bodies. Learn more about health and wellness with our resources this holiday season.