Wishing You a Happy - and Healthy - Holiday Season
Staying healthy during the holidays? Is that even possible...or enjoyable? Maintaining healthy habits during the holiday season can seem downright daunting. Between shopping, family obligations, and lack of sleep, many people throw up their hands and give-in to all kinds of indulgences that stretch the waistline.
The National Institutes of Health report that Americans gain about a pound during the winter holiday season. A pound may not sound like much, but this extra weight accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life. Remember, obesity doesn't occur quickly; pounds accumulate slowly over time.
Maintaining healthy habits, such as eating right and exercising, even though the holiday’s, can lower the risk of some forms of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. For wheelchair-users, health benefits can also include a decreased incidence of pressure sores, urinary tract infections, and urinary stones.
It's no secret that once you let healthy habits slide, it's difficult to get back on track. As the holiday season draws near, it's important to have a plan for how to stay healthy. Here are 10 tips for creating your plan.
1. Eat for your health the day of your holiday party. Many people believe that they should skip eating earlier in the day before going to a holiday party that evening in order to 'save' calories. However, going to a party hungry can cause you to overeat or overindulge on your grandmother’s pecan pie. On the day of the party, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. This will help to keep you from feeling ravenous at the party and you'll be better able to control your cravings.
2. Avoid standing next to the buffet table. Walk around the table first before making a choice. When you check out all your options, you may be less likely to pile one appetizer after another. Choose one or two items as your indulgences - and take small portions of them.
3. Don’t forget the veggies! Fill at least half your plate with fruits and veggies – unless they’re smothered and covered in gravy or cream cheese. Bring a veggie tray as an appetizer and graze on those instead of chips and dip. Challenge yourself and try and eat a food from each food group!
4. Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol can be a double-edged sword - not only is it high in calories, but it also encourages you to eat more by lowering your blood sugar, causing you to feel hungry. Drinking on a full stomach allows the alcohol to absorb slower, making you drink less and help you to make healthier decisions… and preventing you from spilling your family secrets.
5. Think before taking seconds. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. After finishing a plate of food, take a few minutes for your brain to catch up before you make a second trip for those mashed potatoes. Drink a glass of water. Mingle a little. Then reevaluate your appetite. Are you satisfied?
6. Don’t shop hungry. Shopping on an empty stomach can cause impulse buys, adding foods to your cart (and budget) that aren’t usually there. Have a healthy snack before your trip to keep you focused and on track.
7. Lighten up! To show your family you really care about them, bring a healthy dish, low in fat, salt, and sugar for the Thanksgiving potluck. Try roasting veggies instead of putting them in a casserole. Change your mac and cheese recipe by cutting the cheese in half and substituting in pureed carrots. Use applesauce instead of butter in your baked goods. No one will know the difference!
8. Be Active. Going for a walk before or after a large meal can help you reach your health goals and work off some of the extra calories. Try exercising a few hours before your event to set yourself up for success.
9. Rethink your drink. Eggnog is about 435 calories per 8oz, boiled custard is about 344 calories per 8oz, a pumpkin spiced latte is about 300 calories. Hot chocolate is about 170-420 calories per 8oz. Beer has about 100-200 calories per can or bottle. Water has 0 calories. Are you catching on?
10. Family matters. The holidays are really about spending quality time with family and friends. Laugh, dance, play games and remember to be present in the moment with your loved ones. Trust that these tips will helps you focus on what’s most important this holiday season. Relax and enjoy!