The holiday season is a time for celebrating with family and friends. However, it can also present challenges when trying to maintain healthy habits. This year, as gatherings resume after pandemic slowdowns, experts offer tips on how to both enjoy the holidays and support your physical and mental wellbeing.
Balance Indulgence With Moderation
It’s understandable to want to indulge over the holidays after scaled-back celebrations the past couple years. However, completely abandoning healthy habits can negatively impact how you feel.
“Holiday weight gain is a common problem,” notes one article. Research shows adults gain about 0.4 to 1 kg (1 to 2 lbs) during the winter holiday season.
While an occasional treat is perfectly fine, be mindful of portions. Use a smaller plate so you don’t overload. Swap out some indulgent ingredients for healthier alternatives when cooking. For example, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or swap vegetable broth for some of the butter when making mashed potatoes.
“Eat the best and leave the rest,” suggests registered dietitian Kim Giles. “Taste everything, eat very slowly and check in with yourself about continuing to eat something or not.”
Stay Hydrated Between Cocktails
Alcohol flows freely during the holidays, but imbibing too much can ruin celebrations.
“Don’t overdo alcohol,” experts advise. Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to stay hydrated. Eat food before and while drinking to slow absorption.
Set a limit on drinks ahead of time and stick to it. Respect those who abstain from alcohol. Offer enjoyable nonalcoholic options like specialty hot chocolate, sparkling cider, or cranberry spritzers.
Incorporate Activity When Possible
Between travel, errands, and events it can be difficult to fit in exercise over the holidays. When you can, integrate activity into gatherings and outings. Suggest walking while catching up with friends and family instead of remaining sedentary. If weather permits, organize outdoor games. Dancing counts as exercise too!
On busier days, look for opportunities to sneak in movement. Do squats or lunges while waiting for water to boil and pushups during commercial breaks. Go for a walk after an indulgent meal. Climb a few flights of stairs throughout the day. Every little bit makes a difference.
Late nights and early mornings can throw off sleep schedules over the holidays. However, insufficient rest negatively impacts physical and mental health.
Aim for seven to nine hours per night. Keep bedroom dark, cool, and quiet for better sleep quality. Limit stimulation close to bed by turning off screens and avoiding heavy conversations. The bedroom should be for sleep and sex only, experts say.
If afternoon fatigue sets in, take a 20-30 minute power nap. Use an alarm so you don’t oversleep.
Make Time For Yourself
Holiday hustle and bustle can spike anxiety and stress. Carve out me time for self-care. Engage in whatever most relaxes you – reading, baths, crafts, gentle exercise, etc.
Tune into your feelings throughout celebrations, suggests therapist Linda Esposito. Identify any uncomfortable emotions arising. Address issues promptly by communicating needs to loved ones or leaving a situation that no longer feels pleasant.
Establish Healthy Routines Again
The new year offers a chance to reset routines. Ease back into regular sleep schedules, fitness regimens, and healthy eating habits you may have lapsed on.
Rather than extreme restricting after overindulging, experts recommend moderate, sustainable changes. Identify areas needing improvement then set realistic goals like getting more veggies, cutting back refined carbs and sugar, or doing strength training twice a week.
Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season
|Food & Drink
|• Use smaller plates
• Make swaps when cooking
• Alternate alcoholic drinks with water
• Eat before/during drinking
|• Incorporate movement when possible
• Do strength exercises at home
|Sleep & Recovery
|• Aim for 7-9 hours per night
• Limit screens/stimulation before bed
• Take power naps if needed
|• Make time for relaxing activities
• Tune into feelings
• Address issues promptly
|• Ease back into exercise, healthy eating
• Set realistic, sustainable goals
The holiday season allows much anticipated opportunities for celebrating and connecting with loved ones after years of pandemic isolation and uncertainty. By keeping balance and self-care in mind, it can be enjoyed to the fullest while laying foundations for health and happiness in 2023.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.