Contributed By: Christine Morse, MS, Fitness Coordinator with Premier Health and Fitness Center
Is it possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holiday season? Or better yet, is it possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy the holiday season? I submit to you that yes, it is possible! There are small things you can do to safely navigate this season with all its temptations.
Holidays have become synonymous with overeating and overindulging. However, it is feasible to enjoy traditional holiday foods and even treats without going overboard. Before the parties and the feasts, take time to write down your favorite holiday foods. Which ones are priorities for you? Planning the food you “allow” yourself to have can help you turn down all the excess calories. For example, if pumpkin pie makes your list, allow yourself a slice of pumpkin pie after dinner. But when a coworker shows up with fruitcake you can politely decline because it didn’t make the cut.
Obviously portion control plays a role here. You may want to give yourself some guidelines for how much of a food you will let yourself eat. If planning ahead is not for you, pay attention to how full you are as you eat.
Avoid overeating and simply eat until you are satisfied. Don’t hesitate to save a portion of your meal for later when you are appropriately hungry. When you have finished eating, clean the kitchen, put food away, turn the lights off, and leave the room. This will signify to your body that eating time is over and you can move on to other activities without grazing.
I know what you’re thinking: “Exercise during the holidays? Are you nuts?” But hear me out. Making time for physical activity this season can be the smartest decision you make. Low amounts of physical activity combined with high caloric intake (aka overeating) lead to weight gain, digestive issues, irritability and fatigue. You will be your best and happiest self if you carve out a little time for exercise. You may even enjoy your holiday more if you are physically active.
Community events such as 5ks and other fun runs are fairly ubiquitous. Nearly every major city has a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Start your Thanksgiving off on the right foot! If a big event is not your style, get up early (but not too early) for a walk, jog, or bike ride. This is a good way to balance the high calorie meal you will be having. (Bonus points for getting the rest of your family involved!)
Preserve your health by practicing sensible wellness principles. Use vacation time wisely. Continue (or begin) to get enough sleep. Often when we take vacation days we come back to work more tired than when we left. This is counter-intuitive as it often leads to needing more time off either in the form of vacation or sick days.
Other ideas during holiday time might include spending quality time with friends and family, drinking plenty of water, playing with your kids, going on a nature walk or spending more time outdoors, limiting sweets and alcohol, and practicing good exercise and eating habits (see above).
‘Tis the season for fun, families and feasting. Even the healthiest of health nuts should still take time to relax and enjoy themselves. Whether you’re a faithful Turkey Trotter or chronically overindulgent (or both), plan ahead to have a pleasant experience this season. Remember that healthy holidays are happy holidays.