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Does the phrase “healthy holiday” sound like an oxymoron to you? Can you already feel yourself giving in to temptation as the festive season ramps up? The holiday season is upon us, and this is a great thing. Now is the time that families and friends gather together to celebrate all that has come to pass over the last year. It may even be the one time of the year that you get to spend time with those you love. Festivities, parties, and social gatherings abound.
It is the happiest time of the year, right?
The truth of the matter is that the holidays can be a simultaneously joyous and stressful time. A 2015 survey found that sixty-two percent of those surveyed experienced additional stress during this time of year. Issues with family members and a jam-packed schedule coupled with poor nutrition and decreased physical activity can lead to a bummer holiday time. Sound familiar? Innova Primary Care in Huntsville, AL, is dedicated to the entire person. We know that health is multi-faceted, and we want you to have a healthy holiday. This is why we have some great tips to keep yourself in check during this stressful time of year. We want to help you not only thrive but survive the holiday season.
To begin with, let’s talk about some of the components of a healthy holiday.
Here’s a topic that has Santa shaking in his boots: holiday weight gain. While there is no hard statistic on how much the average person gains each year, estimates are between 1 and 10 lbs. depending on who you ask, the truth of the matter is temptation is EVERYWHERE. Holiday weight gain is largely responsible for weight gain across the span of the year, and if you are already overweight or obese, you are more likely to gain excess weight during this time-frame. The great news is you don’t have to add inches to your waistline this year. Here’s how:
1. Snack Mindfully
Everywhere you turn, there’s a table decked out with treats to tempt you. However, this does not mean that you have to snag a cookie every time you walk by.
Think about why you want to reach for that brownie. Are you physically hungry? Would water satisfy your needs? Is boredom the reason for your inability to stay away from the dessert table? Only you will know the answers to these questions. However, the more you know about your hunger cues, the better equipped you are to make an informed decision.
Keep the sweets and snacks away from home during the holidays. If it’s not around, then you cannot indulge. Trust us; you will have ample opportunity to partake as party season kicks into high gear.
2. Arrive Prepared
Before you head out to your soiree, make sure you’ve fueled yourself with some protein and consumed water. Don’t arrive at a party or gathering hungry.
3. Stay Hydrated
Did you know that many times you think you are hungry when, in actuality, you are thirsty? Studies show that over seventy percent of the time, people confuse hunger and thirst. The best way to prevent this is to have water on hand while you are out and about.
4. Treats NOT Cheats
Listen, you don’t have to be a slave to diet culture, nor do you have to forgo your favorite foods during the holidays. The trick is to choose what foods you love and then have them in moderation.
When you approach eating from a “cheat” mentality, you can never win. Instead, refocus your thoughts on savoring a few bites of something and let it be a “treat.”
5. Keep Moving
Your schedule is going to be different from November to January. From school plays to band concerts and everything in between, life will look a little different. It may be tempting to ease up on movement during this time, but do yourself a favor and try to incorporate activity when you can.
The benefits of exercise go well beyond weight management and physical appearance. Exercise is an incredible way to boost your mood (and who doesn’t need a little extra boost of mental confidence). Physical activity has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression as well. Why? It’s like a charger for your brain. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, creates new neural pathways, and helps create a calm feeling.
We often find that people feel selfish for taking time to exercise. Might we suggest re-framing that thought? It is so challenging to give from an empty cup. Finding time to be active will provide you with a chance to recharge and refocus so that you can give the best of you to those you love. We know your calendar will be full of events, so make sure exercise is one of the events you’ve prioritized.
6. Get the Rest You Need
It’s easy to burn the barrel at both ends from Thanksgiving to the New Year. DON’T! Your body and your mind still need rest during this time. Sleep has a profound effect on our overall health. It impacts our hormone regulation, cognitive abilities, and our body’s ability to repair itself.
While you may be busier than usual, now is not the time to skimp on the sleep you so desperately need.
A healthy holiday season is within your grasp. You don’t have to make monumental changes to your ordinary lifestyle either. While this time of year can feel overwhelming with Christmas cookies and fudge your only source of comfort, but you don’t have to give in. You don’t have to avoid gatherings or say no to company parties in an attempt to prevent weight gain. You don’t have to implement a crazy workout schedule to burn extra calories, just include activity when you can. Get your rest when you can to meet the requirements of your busy schedule. Keep your long term goals in mind, eat as healthy as you can during your normal day, stay hydrated, and have fun!