As the Covid-19 travel restrictions begin to relax, holiday bookings have surged, and many are looking forward to spending time with family and friends again. But while the thought of reuniting with loved ones is undoubtedly exciting, for many, the holidays also bring anxiety and stress.
One of the primary sources of holiday stress is often keeping up with healthy habits. According to several studies, the average American gains five pounds or more throughout Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It can be challenging to stay on track when there are so many tempting treats, and letting your fitness routine slide when you’re on vacation is not surprising.
For those worried about staying fit and healthy during the holidays, here are a few tips to help you out:
Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season
Healthy eating is perhaps the main struggle during the holidays. With the abundance of rich food and drink, it’s easy to abandon your diet and indulge. But there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t go overboard.
Opt for Healthy Food Choices
There are many ways you can eat healthily. By making an effort to make healthy choices, you can easily control your calorie intake and ensure you get the nutrients your body needs.
Some simple swaps include making a healthy dish using less butter, choosing leaner cuts of meat, using low-fat dairy products, avoiding processed foods, and so on. You can also fill up on fiber-rich foods and vegetables to help you feel fuller for longer.
Lighten Your Meals
The holiday dinner table can be where people go all out. But there’s no need to pile your plate high with food. Instead, practice making your meals lighter.
You can avoid heavy sauces and switch out some ingredients for healthier alternatives. Your holiday recipes don’t have to be completely different, but by making a few small changes, you can reduce calories and fats that will encourage guilt-free indulging.
And don’t forget to balance your food with healthy snacks and side dishes.
Amp Up On Produce
Incorporating vegetables and fruits should be a priority when preparing a full meal. These foods are well-packed with nutrients, fiber, and water that can help you feel satisfied without overeating.
There are endless choices when incorporating produce into your holiday menu. For example, you can make vegetable-based soup instead of using cream of mushroom soup as your appetizer. Another trick is to add extra vegetables to your stuffing or mashed potatoes for the main dish.
This way, holiday eating won’t be as bad for you, and you’ll get in some extra nutrients too.
Don’t Skip Meals
Research shows that people who skip meals are more likely to indulge later in the day. So, if you want to avoid overeating, make sure you eat regularly throughout the day.
But it doesn’t mean you have to eat everything on the food table. Instead, focus on eating small meals more frequently. Doing so will help to control your hunger and prevent you from overeating later.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
A holiday party is incomplete without a few drinks. But too much alcohol can quickly add up the calorie count. And it doesn’t help with your blood sugar levels either. Studies have shown that any alcoholic drink can cause your liver to focus on metabolizing alcohol instead of glucose.
If you want to enjoy a few drinks, go for something light like vodka with seltzer, or stick to red wine. And always remember to consume everything in moderation. Besides, parties are more fun when you’re not feeling hungover the next day.
Focus on Portion Control
The holiday season is a temptation for mindless eating. But portion sizes can be deceiving, and you might eat more than you bargained for.
When at a buffet table, always use a small plate to control your portion sizes. Smaller plates mean you get a small serving of the foods you love without overindulging. You can also get a hold of your appetite if you eat slowly. This habit will help break down food better and make you feel fuller for longer.
Other Ways to Maintain Your Health: Holiday Tips
Although healthy eating can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, it’s not the only factor. There are other things you can do to make sure your body remains in its tip-top shape, such as the following:
Talk to a Medical Professional
No one knows your body better than a medical professional. So, if you’re unsure about your health and lifestyle, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or another healthcare provider.
They can help you understand how certain foods and drinks affect your body and offer tips on making healthier choices.
If you happen to struggle to eat healthy during the holiday season, don’t sweat it. Instead of depriving yourself of the foods you love, focus on working out smarter.
That means adding more challenging workouts to your routine and being more mindful of your activities. For example, outdoor sports activities are an excellent way to stay active while enjoying the company of others. This practice will balance out the holiday eating and prevent you from gaining weight.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The holidays mean parties are in full swing. But that also means you might be forgoing precious sleep to celebrate late into the night.
Lack of sleep can lead to several issues, such as weight gain, poor mental health, and a weakened immune system. So, ensure you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, even during the holiday season. By doing so, you’ll be able to maintain your health and avoid getting sick.
Enjoy Your Break
The holidays are the perfect time to rest and spend quality time with your loved ones. So, make sure you take time for yourself and do things you enjoy. Especially if you’ve been working hard all year, a break is well-deserved.
There are many activities for family reunion that don’t involve food. You can go for a nature walk, play sports, or have a movie marathon. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s something that will help you relax and rejuvenate. And when you do sit down for a meal, remember to savor every bite and be present in the moment.
Celebrate Your Success
The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on your accomplishments and be proud of how far you’ve come. However, many people use this time to focus on their failures and what they didn’t achieve.
This holiday season, take a step back and celebrate your successes, big or small. Doing so will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. If you managed to stick to your healthy eating habits despite the temptation, give yourself a pat on the back. Remember that every success, no matter how small, is worth celebrating.
The holiday season is a time for fun and celebration. But it’s also a time when people often indulge in unhealthy eating habits. If you want to stay on track with your health goals, focus on healthy eating. And don’t forget to enjoy your break, exercise smarter, and celebrate your successes.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to maintain your health and enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.