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A Guide to Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Staying healthy during the holidays may seem like an impossible task. With the amount of festivities that come with endless eating and drinking alcohol, staying up late and everything in between, it could be incredibly difficult to pay attention to our health.

flatlay christmas spread

We at First Day understand that this season could become a stressful time with the amount of commitments we feel we have to prioritize. In fact, a survey conducted by the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) showed that 63% of people feel a ton of pressure during this time of the year. What should easily be a joyous season could have a negative impact on our overall health and well being if we don't take care of ourselves.

What are some holiday health risks to be mindful of?

It's not just the annual weight gain you and your loved ones should be thinking about. The holiday stress can take a toll on your health in different ways.

The winter months can pose extra risks. Consider the harsher temperatures paired with irregular sleep and a long list of holiday events, not to forget the copious amounts of wine you could be consuming, it's not hard to catch a cold or worse.

This time of the year isn't just about the flu season too. The winter blues is real, and can ultimately affect your mental health. Emergency rooms see a spike in admissions of patients with psychiatric symptoms during the holidays, which includes attempted suicides and self-harm.

For others that have specific health complications, stress and pressure can also lead to higher blood pressure. Moreover, a study conducted by Journal of the American Heart Association found that 4.2% more people die from cardiac events between December 25 and January 7.

Christmastime can demand a lot from us. It could deplete our energy levels in more ways than one and could have adverse effects on our health by the end of it. The good news is you can live a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

How can you stay healthy during the holidays?

Here are tips for staying healthy during the holidays.

1. Start with Thanksgiving dinner

Holiday season kicks off as soon as Thanksgiving starts. It's a time when we get to spend time with friends and family and eat a delicious spread of foods we otherwise don't get to eat too often.

thanksgiving dinner family

However, good health shouldn't take a backseat. Going for a healthier Thanksgiving sets us up to be better to our body for the next few weeks of festivities. It teaches us that we can enjoy the holidays without compromising ourselves. After all, fun isn't just about reckless indulgence.

Whether it's switching out fatty ingredients with healthier alternatives in your recipes or spending time with your loved ones through physical activities, starting a healthy Thanksgiving tradition will make a big difference.

2. Continue to exercise

The beauty of exercise is it can take on a lot of forms, as long as you do it regularly. Whether you take a walk everyday or keep up with your gym routine, moving is one of the most effective ways to maintain or shed off those extra pounds.

woman exercising during christmas

To burn those extra calories during the holidays, increase the time you spend exercising. Add another day in the week or add an extra 15 minutes to your training. The key is to stay active so you can combat the holiday weight gain and continue to feel energized.

You can take it up a notch by finding new ways to move during the holiday season. You can stay healthy with your family and friends by taking a short hike nearby or walking in the park before the festivities begin. You could even schedule a time at the gym or play a friendly game of football to get more exercise in. It's all about getting everyone engaged and aiming for healthy living, especially this time of year.

3. Get sufficient sleep

Research shows that those who slept eight hours a day are less likely to develop a cold than those who slept for seven hours. One could only imagine just how vulnerable you can be if you skip on it or develop erratic sleeping patterns.

mother and child sleeping bed

A good night's sleep is a pillar of good health. It provides our body, mind and spirit necessary rest to take on the season. Otherwise, your immune system could weaken, leading to health risks and complications. When you lack sleep, you crave sugary food and drinks to fuel you. However, this could mean you are more likely to gain more weight. What's more, you'll be too weak to exercise.

4. Eat a healthy snack before you step out

The list of social obligations with family members and friends could be endless. This also means a lot of rich, oftentimes unhealthy meals waiting for you at the table.

woman eating snack

The trick is to eat a nutritious snack before you leave the house. This helps you maintain your healthy diet as well as encourages you not to arrive hungry and ready to gorge on everything in front of you. Furthermore, learn to politely say no if you're being offered foods you're hesitant to consume.

It's important you're eating healthy throughout the day and not skip meals just because you're anticipating a big dinner. It will prevent you from overeating or eating poorly. Plus, it provides your body the nutrients it needs to power through all these long days of celebrations.

5. Choose your battles at the table

You don't have to consume everything. Choosing what you will be eating is good practice for your body to still get the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Moreover, eating right during holiday feasts means you're not bound to feel flat or sluggish, ultimately affecting your overall mood and well being. Remember: balance and control are key.

healthy christmas food

Incorporate more protein, fruits and vegetables as well as healthy fats like oily fish into your plate. This allows you to feel fuller for a longer period of time. Plus, it ensures you're sticking to nutritious choices.

While you're at it, eat slowly. Take the time when chewing your food so it can be properly digested and you won't end up eating as much. Wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds.

6. Bring nutritious food to the table

There are tons of food you can bring to your dinners during the holiday season that will safeguard your intake. This can help especially if you're not the one hosting people over.

healthy food christmas

Healthier recipes for pumpkin pie, green bean casserole or other completely unexpected healthy foods will not only encourage you to skip the richer, fattier ones. It will also help others to stay healthy this time of the year.

7. Go easy on the alcohol and smoking

We all know how excessive drinking and smoking can lead to serious illnesses. Granted that people are more prone to vices during the holidays, it's still best to avoid smoking and lessen the alcohol intake.

friends drinking wine christmas

For example, limit yourself to one to two alcoholic drinks, then switch to cider or sparkling water. Making mocktails or adding a little healthy flavor to your water like a lemon wedge or mint leaves could also help you think you're still drinking something festive or fun.

8. Stay hydrated

Drinking water is arguably one of the best ways to stay healthy not only during the holiday season but all year round. In other words, don't skimp on it.

Drinking water not only helps you eat less. It also prevents constipation, aids digestion, normalizes your blood pressure, cushions your joints and flushes out bacteria from your bladder.

Our gut is bound to take a lot more beating during the holidays, and 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. Therefore, staying hydrated can help prevent us from getting sick in numerous ways.

9. Take care of your mind and spirit

It's crucial to pay extra attention to your mental health this time of the year. It can be overwhelming spending time with a lot of people. Whether or not you realize it, stress from the Christmas holidays can take a toll not only on your body but your mind and spirit too.

self care

Finding balance in your mind allows you to regain focus and understand what this season really is all about. Ask yourself if it's really worth the effort finding the most unique or expensive gift, or is causing you anxiety? Do you really need to go to all these parties you were invited to or is it better to choose which ones to attend, with those people that truly support and care for you? There's a lot of pressure that comes with the holiday season. However, that doesn't mean you need to give into it at the expense of your mental health

Taking a break and breathing a little helps you find your center. Whether it's one day to de-stress or dedicating a few minutes of your waking hours for quiet time, be there for yourself too. Spend time with family and friends that will make you feel good. You'd be surprised how a little self care can go a long way when you need to manage stress.

10. Supplement when necessary

Let's face it: We're all going to want to cheat a little (or a lot!) this holiday season. However, one thing we can't forget about is taking care of our immune system and to make sure we are going to come out of this season still healthy and looking forward to a better year ahead.

First Day Gummies

One that we recommend you do is to supplement when necessary. Taking your multivitamins could help bridge the nutritional gaps and ensure your body has sufficient vitamins and minerals to help you function everyday. Moreover, it keeps you healthy so you don't end up getting sick and missing all the action.

First Day gummies are made with only the healthiest, most natural ingredients without fillers. Whether you'd want one for yourself or your loved ones, our gummies are here to help boost your health during such an indulgent season.

Balance is key!

Eating well and staying healthy this time of year can be difficult but it's not impossible. With these tips, you could have just as much fun and quality time with the people who matter the most without putting your well being at risk.

Above all, take this time to enjoy yourself with your loved ones. The holidays only come once a year. Make it as memorable as you possibly can.