Having a healthful holiday season
For most people, the holiday season is filled with friends, family, fun, and of course – food. The variety of elaborate once-a-year entrees, delectable desserts, and eggnog can be difficult to avoid – and can wreak havoc on your eating regimen, especially if you are watching your calorie intake.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks for navigating more healthfully through the holiday season:
- Get enough sleep – at least 7-8 hours per night. This can be a challenge during a time of year where celebrations tend to keep you staying up late or waking up earlier than normal. But getting enough sleep is one way help keep you from overeating by keeping your energy level up, so the tendency to crave salty or fatty foods is reduced.
- Allow yourself to enjoy some of your favorite treats. It is not recommended to skip meals to allow for indulgence and extra calories later, as that often causes your blood sugar level to dip too low and also leave you susceptible to cravings and overeating. Instead, enjoy some of your favorites – but in much smaller amounts. Fill your plate with a variety of foods, leaving room for smaller portions of your holiday favorites, and eat smaller snack-sized meals throughout the day.
- Avoid alcohol if you can, and be mindful of its effects. In terms of managing your blood sugar level (which can contribute to the impulse to overeat), please note that drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can cause your blood sugar to plummet. If you must celebrate with alcohol, limit how much you drink and do so only with a meal to help counter the drink’s effect on your blood sugar. IMPORTANT: Consuming alcohol with a meal does NOT counter its ability to intoxicate you or impair your judgement. And never, ever, drink and then drive.
- Try to fit exercise into your holiday celebrations. Staying active – especially during a time of year with increased calorie intake – can help control your blood sugar level, improve circulation, and help relieve stress. Dancing, walking, hiking, cross country skiing, cleaning the house, or finding time to take a fitness class or participate in an indoor fitness activity are great ways to balance wellness with the extremes that can accompany holiday celebrations.
- If you do overindulge, know you can always get back on track. If you do go overboard, don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, distract yourself from eating more by focusing on family, friends, or the festive activities you’re participating in. Drink more water throughout the day. And know you can always start fresh and make a better choice when faced with your next temptation.
- Try to minimize or lower holiday stress. All types of stress occasionally pops-up, but holiday stress can be particularly difficult to overcome. With extra stress, making time for one’s self may seem like a low priority on the long list of to-do’s and while fulfilling obligations for others. Managing your time, eating more healthfully, and making time for relaxation and rest are important. One way to achieve this balance may be by setting limits, too. You do not need to attend every party, cook everything from scratch, or make or buy presents for everyone you know. Say yes to the things that bring you joy and let some things go without guilt. Those that care about you will want you to be happy, not feeling badly!
You know yourself best, and can best decide what choices are going to work well for you. When given the chance to make a healthful choice, feeling good generally comes along with that, and feeling good makes for a happy holiday season.