18 December 2018Tips to Maintain Health during the Holidays

For those of us who seek wellness, it takes some creative strategies to maintain a healthy balance during the holidays. So, how can we keep from breaking our momentum during a hectic holiday schedule when surrounded by endless temptations? On the one hand, we could ignore holiday invitations just because we know there will be rich foods. Well, that doesn't really work because there will be cookies and candy everywhere during the holidays...as gifts from family and friends, at the work break area, and in the stores. On the other hand, we could go full-throttle, overindulging and skipping exercise from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. This probably is not the best idea either because we will likely end up frustrated and less healthy by the end of it. Besides, this black and white thinking does not work well for a healthy body, mind and spirit. Do not stop living and enjoying life!

Over the years, having taught countless nutrition and healthy lifestyle classes, I have observed that we are inspired by others when we try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, with the holidays in mind, I spoke with people I admire for their healthy balance and asked them to share some strategies that may inspire others to maintain a healthy focus during the holidays. I hope that what follows are some motivating words from my friends and family. Keep in mind, what works for one, may not work for another. Always personalize your strategies, and find what works for you.

1. What health-minded strategies would you like to share to keep the holidays from becoming a free-for-all overindulgence of rich foods?

Barry: "If I know there's going to be an opportunity where a lot of food will be available, then I try to balance the effects by eating smaller portions leading up to the food event and afterwards. I'll eat more healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, the rest of the day, in order balance out the calories."

Karen: "I tend to eat much smaller portions of the food provided. This way I get to try everything without feeling too stuffed."

Joanne: "I try to eat smaller portions of foods I enjoy. I also really enjoy trying new things but keep the portions small, often splitting with others. I have learned that overeating just results in me feeling physically uncomfortable and stuffed. It is just not worth it."

Meredith: "I normally eat small meals and snacks every few hours, so I will try to have something before a party so I'm not very hungry when I arrive. I can also usually find something healthy, like a veggie tray or salad, and load up on that. I try to enjoy one or two indulgences as well though, just keeping portions of those very small."

Ricardo: "I avoid overindulgence during the holidays by taking smaller portions at a big meal, and I try not to go back for seconds."

Eva: "Instead of saying I am going to go over the top, I try a little of each treat so I can still enjoy everything. My mom gets upset when the family doesn't eat her food, so by trying a little bit of everything, she is happy, and I am content but not uncomfortably stuffed."

Monique: "Try not to be black and white. Give yourself permission to enjoy holiday foods that you may not normally eat or keep in the home. Don't be so hard on yourself when you eat them but really enjoy and savor the smaller amount."

Liz: "I splurge on the holiday itself, for example, on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but not all season long. I try to eat like usual on the other days of the season."

2. Do you have strategies for including exercise/physical activity during the holidays?

Barry: "I try to stay active as much as possible during the holidays, but with everything going on, it can be challenging. But even if I do slack off during this time, I still get some form of exercise and commit to it. Once the holidays are over, I up my workout routine to work off any weight I might have gained."

Karen: "I have been trying to go for walks during my lunch-hour at work. It is hard for me to exercise after I get home from work, so incorporating it at lunch seems to be a good goal. It also reduces the stress that seems to come with the holidays."

Meredith: "I feel better when I stick to my fitness routine, so I just commit to making time for it, even if it's only 30 minutes to do a quick workout at home. Although I haven't done any, there are also lots of holiday 5Ks around - that would be a good way to stay active and participate in a festive event!"

Ricardo: "l exercise regularly all year but ramp up my volume during the holidays."

If you are looking for other healthy holiday ideas on topics such as dealing with emotional eating, physical activity tips, healthy holiday gift ideas, etc, here is a link to find previous MyNetDiary articles in the MyNetDiary Blog. To stay inspired and keep learning about maintaining good health over the holidays, you might consider reading one article a day.

Brenda L Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN,CDE

Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Indialantic, Florida

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Holidays / Parties/Winter Holiday Season

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