The holidays are probably the most difficult time of the year to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With colder weather setting in, plenty of large family meals taking place and all of the tasty treats designed specifically for that time of the year, the temptation to indulge is everywhere.
And it’s not just the food that can lead you to leave your healthy habits behind. The holidays often bring more vacation time, travel and various unusual stresses that can also wear away your self-discipline. But that just makes the need to focus on your overall health that much more important as the calendar year winds down.
Holiday health tips
There are several techniques you can employ to stay healthy throughout the holidays and position yourself for the new year. Here are just a few to help you in your efforts:
- The holidays also represent the onset of flu season. And since you’re likely to come into contact with many different people – including family you might not have seen in awhile – during that time of year, being extra careful about hygiene is crucial. Be especially diligent about washing your hands to avoid spreading germs.1
- In most areas of the country, the temperature starts to drop precipitously throughout the end of November and into December. So take extra care to stay warm.
- With so many fattening foods and desserts being widely available at holiday meals, it’s easy to start counting the calories and working your stress levels up unnecessarily. Accept that no matter how hard you try, you are likely to pack on a couple extra pounds over the holidays. Just plan a little extra gym time or some healthier meals after the new year to balance things out.2
- At the same time, you don’t want to overindulge. Watch your portion sizes carefully. You know you’re going to want some pie after dinner, so don’t load up on turkey and sides during the meal. A simple and slight adjustment to your holiday eating habits can go a long way.
- If you’re still worried about how unhealthy some traditional holiday foods can be, try to substitute more nutritious alternatives.3 Use wild rice in your stuffing instead of bread. Try opting for the white meat of the turkey instead of the dark. Adapt your grandmother’s recipes and don’t use as much butter or lard as she might have.
All you have to do is exercise common sense (and your muscles if you have the time) to turn your holidays into a joyous and healthy celebration.
1 “Holiday Health and Safety Tips,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/
2 Passarella, Elizabeth, “17 Holiday Health Tips,” realsimple.com. http://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/holiday-health-tips-00100000071461/
3 Stamos Kovacs, Jenny, “Healthy Holiday Food & Fitness,” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-holidays-8/merry-recipe-makeovers