By Cristen B. Lindsay, RD, CNSC
The holiday season provides many opportunities to lose track of your health goals. From Halloween candy to holiday feasts, not to mention the colder weather inspiring more lazy days spent indoors.
These colder months are where a lot of us start to relax nutritional priorities. As a culture, we use food as way to celebrate with our loved ones, and the end of the year gives many opportunities to get everyone together.
This holiday season, keep your health a priority by adopting these 5 holiday health tips.
1.Focus on Family and Friends
When you’re truly present with another person, it’s difficult to overeat. Strike up a conversation with a family member you haven't seen in a while. Or have a meaningful interaction with someone you pass in the hallway every day, but never seem to have time to fully connect with. This connection will not just serve as a distraction from the appetizer table but will feed your emotional need for community.
2.Rebalance Your Intentions
Whether your intentions are to lose or maintain weight, manage your blood sugars, or limit your salt and saturated fat intake, it’s crucial to continue reaching those goals even over the holiday season.
One indulgent meal will not harm your health, but a series of indulgences can be detrimental. Create a list of the top 3 reasons for making your chosen lifestyle changes. Is it to feel better? To manage a disease? To live longer for the people you love? Set boundaries for yourself and plan your treats accordingly.
A great way to offset the additional opportunities for overeating this season is to fit in 30 minutes of activity every day. Take a daily relaxing walk around the neighborhood with a loved one or a pet. Organize a game of flag football or set up an obstacle course in the back yard for Christmas after the gifts have been unwrapped.
If you’re a member of a private gym, maintain your regular class frequency even if you have to move times around to accommodate other events. The physical activity will help you burn extra calories and keep your muscle tone intact.
Drinking enough water throughout the holiday season is crucial, especially if you increase your alcohol intake. Coffee, alcohol, and foods such as asparagus act as natural diuretics and will remove water from your body. Replace it with pure water, infused water, or herbal tea.
A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. When your body is dehydrated, it will send craving signals to your brain which can be mistaken as hunger. Always drink one glass of water before every meal.
5.Build Your Plate Carefully
A special moment during the holiday season is sharing a large feast with your loved ones. To make it satisfying and healthy, follow these guidelines:
Consider skipping the appetizer platter. When you’re hungry, your taste buds are more receptive to flavors, which means that you will enjoy the main meal more than if you came to the table already satisfied.
Serve yourself smaller portions so you can try new side dishes. Go for vegetables and protein first, then top off with starchy options like mashed potatoes.
Pay attention to the colors, flavors, and textures of the food while you eat. This way you can truly appreciate what you and your family have prepared for the celebration.
Be choosy about dessert. Choose one dessert and enjoy slowly with a cup of coffee or tea as the night winds down.