Celebrations are synonymous with eating. Therefore, this time of year, food is in abundance. Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or the winter solstice, gatherings with family and friends mean good food and plenty of it! All of these holiday get-togethers can amount to a much larger than average daily consumption of calories. Throw in a few eggnogs or alcoholic drinks and the calories will add up!
Many of us are also traveling during the holidays as well. We might be staying with family, traveling overseas, or going on vacation. So add the holidays WITH travel, and there’s no wonder why everyone hits the gym on January 1st!
So, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite tips that I follow, to stay healthy through the holidays:
Why waste calories on food that’s not your favorite? We are constantly bombarded around the holidays with treats, comfort foods, and novelty drinks. Therefore, something I always do is only indulge in my absolute favorite items. Usually it only takes a couple of bites to satisfy my palate. If I want to try something new that looks appetizing, I only take a bite, just enough to know if I like it. Save the calories for the foods you love!
Try to stay away from holiday foods that pack a big punch per bite – items like chocolate candies, nuts, and desserts filled with peanut butter and cheese. Have a taste, just don’t make a meal out of them!
Are you having lunch at your mom’s house and then dinner and dessert at his mom’s house? Splitting time between houses on the same day? Do your best to avoid eating the ‘big meal’ at two homes on the same day. Take only a small plate of food (sometimes even grabbing a smaller plate can help!) and save room for the next meal.
As a nine-year vegetarian, it’s way too easy for me to slip into the “carb only” diet around the holidays. Because I don’t eat meat, I often eat too many side dishes and nothing that’s really filling. So at holiday parties and gatherings, I try to make a veggie tray or vegetable dish my main meal. If I snag a cracker, I’m sure to grab a slice of cheese with it as well. Finding low-calorie non-meat proteins can be difficult; aim for small servings of nuts, cheese, and cream based dips to help fill you up and add a little protein.
Alcohol contains a significant number of calories. A glass of wine is typically 125 calories (5 oz.), whiskey has 70 calories (1 oz.), and a can of beer averages around 150 calories. Not only that, as alcohol consumption increases, people tend to eat more – and not the healthiest of foods! Watching how much I drink is essential to maintain good health during the holidays.
Here are a few other (more obvious!) healthy holiday eating tips:
To stay healthy through the holidays, find ways to be more active. Instead of using the motorized walkways in airports, opt for walking instead! Also, take the stairs instead of the escalator, park further away than necessary, and minimize the amount of time you spend sitting. Make sure you pack decent walking shoes for travel and be sure to wear them while traveling. If you’re wearing good comfortable shoes, you’ll be more likely to stay moving!
For international flights, with all the various meals given on planes, trying to sleep, and readjust to new time zones, meals on that travel day (or two) tend to be chaotic, unscheduled, and numerous! Make sure you ask yourself, “am I really hungry?” and focus on eating fruits, veggies, and complex carbs. After all, you are basically sitting for all that time spent in the air so you don’t need a lot of calories.
All too often, when we women are traveling during the holidays, there’s never enough room in our luggage for all of the shoes we want to pack. We want stylish, functional, and comfortable shoes for every occasion. That is why I always pack a versatile pair of gym shoes, like adidas brand Campus shoes or Lucas premiere shoes. Not only are these shoes stylish to wear with jeans, they’re suitable to exercise in. So now I have trendy, comfy shoes on my feet when I’m out and about that I can wear them to the gym as well! No need to pack that extra pair of bulky sneakers to wear just to work out in. A win-win!
Resistance bands are a great packable item that I like to travel with. Not only can you tone your muscles with them, but you can also get deep, effective stretches by using them. I have some old bands from physical therapy sessions that I always travel with which are basic, ‘no-frills’ bands that are easily replaceable if lost.
It’s easy to get lazy around the holidays. The kids are home from school, you have a few days off from work, and you fall into a slump. What better time to focus on your health?! Put on your favorite workout gear, go outside for some fresh air (if you’re lucky enough to have decent weather), go for a walk, hike, or bike ride, or head to your local gym. Even if you’re only exercising for a short period of time, something is better than nothing. You’ll feel more awake, refreshed, and are likely to be more productive for the rest of your day.
Staying healthy through the holidays can be challenging, but you can find little moments of each day to be healthier. Whether it’s opting for fruit instead of another cookie or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, every little bit you can do to improve your health is helpful!
Here’s to your health and the happiest of holidays!