No matter what winter holiday you celebrate, winter holidays usually mean lots of food and drink, so it can be hard to stay healthy. While the holidays are just a brief period hopefully this article will give you some helpful tips to stay health-conscious over the holidays.
1). Cut yourself some slack
Let’s be honest, chances are you’re going to slip up and overeat at a meal or have an extra helping of dessert, after all, it’s the holidays. If you set unrealistic expectations for yourself, you’re likely to give up on yourself once you slip up once and it’s all downhill from there. If you accept that you’re likely to slip up a time or two you can slip up a time or two as long as you show some restraint for the rest of the holidays.
While you don’t want to let yourself go too crazy over the holidays, indulging a little bit can actually be a good thing, especially if you’ve recently started a diet or recently cut back on carbs and calories. Our bodies adjust how they use and store energy based on how much energy we take in, so if we restrict calories very drastically our bodies can panic and store those calories, and if settle on a lower calorie diet for a long time our bodies can adjust to this and make it harder to keep burning them off, so it’s okay to trick your body every now and again by taking the occasional break from your diet.
Do try to stay away from candy, however. Most holiday foods might be served in large helpings or have some added sugar, but they’re also likely to contain other nutrients where candy is nothing but sugar, so allow yourself a piece of pie but stay away from all of those chocolates and candy canes.
2) Don’t stock up yourself (or stock up right)
If you plan on visiting other people or going to parties away from home over the holidays, try not to have too many holiday treats in your own home. We tell ourselves that we can have more treats over the holidays because it is a special occasion, but if we don’t by treats for ourselves we need to wait for truly special occasions. There are also a lot of meals and desserts that can be a lot healthier with a few minor alterations and can make your healthy holiday pretty tasty.
Alternatively, if you plan on hosting parties and visitors yourself, then you know that you can’t go overboard on any food that you might have on hand.
3) Make your own Holiday food
If you’re hosting a party you can also try to do your guests a favor by preparing healthier meals or deserts. Meals made at home are just about always better than any premade alternatives and are always more impressive to show off. If you don’t do much home cooking, now is as good a time as any to start.
A traditional healthy, tasty holiday dessert is fruit compote. Most recipes will call for added sugar, but my mother always used fruit juice instead of syrups and it always turned out just fine. Now, you’re probably thinking fruits have a lot of sugars, and that’s true, they do, but they also have dietary fiber and other nutrients that make those calories a pretty fair trade.
4) Watch how much you drink, and what
Alcohol, eggnog, alcohol in eggnog, the holidays are full of liquid, and all of it is pretty fattening. A lot of holiday punch is also made with ice cream and soda. It can be easy to lose track of calories during the holidays, and that’s doubly true of beverages. People get most of their extra calories from drinks like alcoholic drinks, sweetened coffee, and soda partially because these drinks can carry a deceptive amount of calories can partially because it can be so easy to knock them back. Just like foods discussed above, try to limit your holiday accesses to parties rather than just around the house. You could also try to drink healthier when you aren’t celebrating by sticking to drinks like water, milk, or unsweetened coffee and tea.
5) Make staying active part of the celebration
Depending on where you live the holidays can be a pretty inhospitable season but, if the weather allows, you should find some time to get out and look around. This can be especially important because we often think of the holidays in terms of food but we seldom think about them in terms of exercise, and you should be keeping track of both to stay in shape.
A lot of people decorate their homes during the holidays, and one of my favorite holiday traditions is walking with my wife to look at neighborhood decorations. We don’t start out with a path in mind, we just follow the lights. This is an activity that my parents used to do in the car, but walking instead of driving is a good habit to get into no matter what the reason.
Earlier in the season, you can get in on this yourself by putting some outdoor decorations on your own home. This is a once a year activity (twice if you count taking them down) but it can still be a festive workout. If your town has a group of carolers, this can be another seasonal way to get out and about.
Another great way to work walking into your holidays is to shop locally. Instead of getting in the car or going out of your way to hit the holiday sales at big-box stores, try parking your car and walking the shops on Main Street to do your holiday shopping.
No matter what winter holiday you celebrate, many of the winter holidays celebrate having enough to survive the winter, and they often celebrate this with food, but that doesn’t mean that your holidays can be unhealthy. Hopefully, the suggestions provided in this article will help you plan a holiday season that keeps you happy and healthy well into the new year.