Healthy Holiday Wellness
When the calendar changes to November, you know that the holiday season isn’t far behind. Before long, you’ll be surrounded by an array of holiday goodies that are practically guaranteed to test even the strongest of wills and wreak havoc on your waistline and destroy your healthy holiday wellness plan.
Rather than face the temptations of the holidays on a whim, you can create a plan to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle despite the abundance of treats at every gathering. From making smart decisions about food and drinks to finding ways to stay active during the busy holiday season, you can balance indulging in the occasional seasonal treat and not having health-related regrets when the new year arrives.
There’s no shortage of delicious food during the holiday season. From mouth-watering savory dishes to sweet desserts, it’s easy to get carried away. Avoid the worry of stepping on the scale post-holidays by making good decisions at the dinner table. Here are some ideas for how you can cut the calories, still enjoy a delicious holiday meal and maintain healthy holiday wellness:
- Choose Your Bird Wisely – Turkey is a common holiday main course but not all turkey is created equally. For instance, white meat contains fewer calories and less fat than dark meat, making it the healthier choice. Watch your portion size as well. The recommended portion for meat is 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
- Watch Out for the Sides – Most holiday meals offer a wide variety of festive side dishes. Opt for side dishes that are made using whole grains, lean meats, fruits and veggies to help you stay on track. If you must indulge in the more decadent dishes, take just a small scoop instead of piling it on to your plate.
- Sample Desserts – You don’t have to completely skip the sweets but try to limit your intake to a small sampling instead of a whole portion. Ask a friend to share a slice of pie or choose a smaller treat, like a cookie, instead.
- Use Smaller Plates – By using a salad plate, as opposed to a dinner plate, you’ll be less likely to overindulge. The smaller plate makes you choose your items more carefully as there’s not room for everything. To make this trick work, you must resist the urge to return for seconds though.
- Limit the Sodium – A lot of holiday food contains high levels of sodium, which can wreak havoc on your diet. To lower your consumption of sodium, look for items, such as breads and soups, marked low sodium when shopping for your holiday meal. You can also substitute other spices to add flavor while cutting down on salt.
- Step Away from the Snack Table – Avoid mindless eating by staying at least an arm’s length away from the pre-dinner snacks. And watch you consumption on other meals.
From eggnog to cocoa, the selection of holiday drinks is tempting but also filled with lots of extra calories. Luckily, you don’t have to completely forgo your favorite holiday beverage. Just be sure to make smart and healthy decisions to make the calorie intake more manageable. Here are some suggestions:
- Act Like the D.D. – Even if you’re not the designated driver, choosing to skip the alcohol removes a lot of the unnecessary calories from your drink.
- Say No to Extras – While whipped cream and marshmallows may be fun drink toppings, they’re also empty calories and the drinks will taste almost as good without the extra sugar.
- Lighten Up – If possible, try to use a low-fat milk or even choose a non-dairy mixer to lower the amount of fat that you’re consuming. You can also look for sugar-free or reduced sugar options.
- Don’t Forget the H20 – For every drink that you indulge in, drink a glass of water. The water will help fill you up and keep you from consuming too many extra calories.
Of course, there’s more to staying healthy during the holidays than just watching your diet. You need to maintain an active lifestyle as well.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes each week of moderate physical activity and following that routine during the busy holiday season can help combat potential weight gain from the holiday goodies. Here are some ideas for staying active during the holiday season:
- Take Advantage of the Winter Weather – If you live in a cold climate, take advantage of the snowfall and get outdoors for some winter activity. Sledding is a fun way to incorporate exercise into your routine. You’ll hardly notice the physical exertion of pulling the sled back up the hill as you eagerly await your turn to sled back down. Although it’s less fun than sledding, shoveling the snow is another great way to get your exercise while performing a necessary winter task.
- Go Ice Skating – Whether you live in a chilly climate with natural outdoor ice skating rinks or live in a warmer area with man-made rinks, ice skating is a fun holiday activity for the whole family. Balancing on ice creates core muscle strength while being a great workout for your heart too.
- Take a Stroll – Going for a walk is the perfect way to get your daily exercise any time of the year. Sure, you may have to add a few more layers to keep off the chill in the winter, but it’s still an easy way to stay in shape during the holiday season. You can increase the difficulty by jogging if you’re looking for more of a challenge.
- Hit the Gym – If you want to stay indoors, you can visit the local gym or create a workout routine to do from the comfort of your own home. Just be sure to make a routine and stick to it to see the best results.
- Keep Track of Progress – The holiday season is a busy time of year and there often isn’t time to keep a close look on your health. Instead of spending precious time manually tracking your diet and exercise, link a wearable fitness device to your wellness portal and let it automatically keep track of your biometrics for you. Or can simply log on to your dashboard of your health risk assessment to view your health information.
By following these suggestions for a happy and healthy holiday season, you’ll be able to join the festivities and avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain. When the clock strikes midnight on New Years’ Eve, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you successfully navigated one of the most tempting times of the year without expanding your waistline. Here’s to starting a new year with no regrets! Cheers!