From family feasts to age-old traditions, the holidays give us a lot to look forward to. But they also bring their own set of challenges: too much food, too many parties, too much stress, and too little time. For those of us who struggle to stay on a healthy track this time of year, we’ve put together a few tips for making the holidays a season of health.
Sneak in exercise.
The holidays are a busy time, for sure. But rather than throw your exercise routine out the window, or tell yourself you’ll start one in January, focus on staying active in simple ways. It doesn’t have to be an hour-long class. Instead, find little ways to stay moving, like going for a quick walk between dinner and dessert. Also, try to incorporate physical activity into family time, like taking a stroll around the neighborhood.
Cook from the heart.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” doesn’t just apply to how you treat others. It also applies to what you eat. To show family and friends that you really care, be creative with recipes to make sure that there’s something healthy for everyone at the holiday part. These vegetable-centric dishes are a great place to start.
At parties and family gatherings, don’t feel the need to sample everything on the buffet line. Skip the dishes you’re lukewarm on and stick to modest portions of what you love.
Drink water instead.
A lot of people tend to let loose around the holidays. While a single drink can be a modest indulgence, having two or more can be like eating an extra dinner. Apart from the extra calories, alcohol consumption has been linked to numerous negative health effects. If you do drink alcohol, slow your pace by alternating a cocktail with a glass of seltzer or water.
After a meal, it takes a while for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full. After your first helping of food, take a 10-minute break to let your brain catch up. Start a conversation, sip some water, or go for a little walk. Then recheck your appetite to see if you really want seconds.
Focus on what really matters.
Although food is an integral part of the holidays, it’s also about enjoying time with people you love. Just as much as what you do or do not eat, a truly healthy holiday involves leaving plenty of room for laughter, soaking up good conversation, and keeping the focus on what’s important – like deepening connections with family members and others you may only get to see this time of year.
Reinvent family traditions.
It’s easy to cast aside healthy habits when you’re the only one attempting them. But you’re a lot less likely to give up when others are either supporting you or participating alongside you. When setting a new goal for yourself – whether it’s eating healthier or upping your physical activity – let your family know about it and invite them to get on board. Your next holiday gathering is the perfect place to start. Establishing healthy traditions as a family is an excellent way to keep each other motivated and introduce younger generations to the idea that healthy living can be fun. (Hint: One of those traditions can be signing up for the annual It’s Time Texas Community Challenge.)
Remember that health is a journey.
Just as it’s tempting to overindulge at the holidays, it can also be tempting to impose harsh rules that sap the enjoyment out of holiday gatherings. Keep in mind that it is okay to ease up and treat yourself once in a while. A single heavy meal or skipped workout is not going to make or break your health. Health is about forming lifelong habits that help to nourish and strengthen us – mind, body, and spirit. And if you’re ever in need of a little extra support on your journey, remember that our free health coaching hotline is here to help.
Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season from the team at It’s Time Texas.