The holidays are quickly approaching (I can’t believe it either!). And as the days go by, I’ve been contemplating how I can make this season my healthiest holiday season ever. The holidays are a time when it is easy to fall off the health wagon, as we indulge in savory Thanksgiving dishes, rich holiday desserts, and all sorts of festive cocktails in between. Like anyone else, I’m guilty of going slightly overboard during the holidays and throwing caution to the wind when it comes to staying active and sticking to a reasonable diet. BUT, I’ve also experienced first-hand how effective just a few tips and tricks can be to stay healthier during the holidays—and how you can change those ever-determined New Year’s resolutions into a constant discipline that lasts throughout the season leading up to the New Year. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t promote healthy holiday habits if they interfered with my ability to enjoy the holidays in any way. So trust me when I say that you truly can have a fun and relaxing holiday without over-indulging. But enough talk, keep reading for a few of my healthy holiday habits that will transform the way you feel this season…
I think it’s safe to say that when the holidays come around, many of us use the extra time off to “hibernate” as much as possible. (After all, there are no better naps than holiday naps…) But if your sleep schedule gets TOO imbalanced, it can take a toll on not only your energy, but your overall health. Not enough sleep will leave you tired, grouchy, and unable to keep up with holiday activities, while too much sleep can leave you feeling groggy and more likely to eat irregular meals, which can also throw off your diet. I personally think you can never go wrong going to bed early, and rising early. Try to set a schedule so you’re getting just the right amount of sleep each night, and if you’re extra tired from a holiday outing, a little nap never hurt anyone.
For some, the idea of exercising while on vacation is nearly impossible to wrap their head around. Luckily, there are an endless number of ways to get your heart pumping on vacation without ever setting foot in a gym. Try to get out and do something active every day, whether that is going sledding, skiing, or even going for a walk to enjoy some winter scenery (or some shops downtown). The key is to keep moving each and every day—this will keep you from becoming too idle during your break, keep your blood pumping, and calories burning so you can enjoy a treat at the end of the day without putting a dent in your diet.
Portion size plays a huge factor in keeping bloating away and getting energy from your meals, rather than being slowed down by them. First and foremost, remember that your eyes are often bigger than your mouth! It’s easy to think you need a heaping plate of food when you’re super hungry, but don’t overdo it on your first serving. Take a small amount of each dish, knowing that you can always “go back for seconds.” This actually tricks your mind, because instead of feeling like you have to finish an oversized plate of food, your body will more than likely be full after your first small serving, and you won’t even need to return for seconds! Mind over matter, right?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Staying hydrated is everything. We often mistake boredom or thirst for hunger, and go reaching for food instead of a sip of water. When you think you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water instead and more often than not, your cravings will subside until your body actually needs food. On top of that, staying hydrated keeps your digestion going and continues to flush your body of toxins that may accumulate from indulging in sweet and salty foods.
With so many deliciously festive dishes, there is no harder time to resist cravings than the holidays. It’s easy to let a craving pop into your mind, and immediately reach for that dessert without giving it a second thought. Instead, try identifying where that craving is coming from. Maybe instead of craving peach cobbler, your body really just needs a little bit of natural sugar. Try reaching for a healthier substitute to satisfy your craving, like cantaloupe or some strawberries, and you’ll be surprised how often you’ll be satisfied! Of course, there’s no need to completely deny yourself some yummy holiday desserts, but remember to indulge in moderation! I, for one, can’t wait for the holidays to come (and not just to sample all that yummy holiday food)… I hope you can put some of these tips to use and have your healthiest holiday season yet!
Photos: Gray Malin