How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Staying healthy during the holidays may seem like an impossible task. All of the family gatherings, having the kids home, holiday spread after holiday spread, drinking alcohol, the decrease in quality sleep, and your company parties could make it incredibly difficult to keep up your regular healthy habits. Even routine steps you take to maintain a healthy body like taking your daily multivitamin may get skipped.
We understand that your stress levels may be higher than usual too. As the number of commitments we prioritize increases, the number of nutritious foods we consume typically decreases. 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 potentially end up having a negative impact on our overall health and well being if we don't take care of ourselves.
What are some health risks to be mindful of during the holiday season?
It's not just the annual weight gain you and your family should be thinking about from all of that home cooking. 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 a decrease in quality sleep and a long list of holiday events. Going to see the holiday lights, consuming all of your favorite holiday foods, and taking care of any last minute holiday shopping can make it difficult 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 be a sign that your mental health has taken a tool. Emergency rooms see a spike in admissions of patients with psychiatric symptoms during the holidays including attempted suicides and self-harm.
For others that have specific health complications, stress and pressure can also lead to higher blood pressure. 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.
The holidays can demand a lot from us on top of every day life. They can deplete our energy levels in more ways than one. A potential decrease in physical activity could also contribute to adverse effects on our health. The good news is, you can enjoy 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 to stay healthy during the holidays.
1. Start with Thanksgiving dinner
The holidays kick off as soon as Thanksgiving starts. It's a time when we get to spend time with friends and family and eat a delicious meal we otherwise don't get to eat too often.
However, good health shouldn't take a backseat. Going for a healthier Thanksgiving dinner sets the tone for the rest of the holidays. It teaches us that we can enjoy the food without compromising ourselves. After all, fun isn't just about reckless indulgence like mowing down an entire pecan pie.
Whether it's switching out fatty ingredients, incorporating more vegetables, or starting a new healthy dishes tradition can make all the difference in getting the right nutrients.
2. Portion control is key
You don't need to be a nutrition expert or avoid your favorite family recipes to makes smart food choices. Not eating on an empty stomach and starting with only a small portion for your first helping will also give you a better control idea of knowing when it's time to stop eating.
At least one thing you can do is incorporate more vegetables like choosing sweet potatoes over butter ladened mashed potatoes. The food choices you make is important, but how much of each food you have at each meal help make sure your holiday nutrition is on point.
3. Maintain your healthy lifestyle through exercise
The beauty of physical activity is it can take on a lot of forms as long as you do it regularly. Whether you take a walk everyday, knock out a set of jumping jacks, go ice skating, or keep up with your typical gym routine, moving is one of the most effective ways to maintain or even experience weight loss during the holidays.
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 holidays. You can stay healthy with your family and friends by taking a short hike nearby or going for a walk 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.
4. Get sufficient sleep
Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study that shows that those who slept eight hours a day are less likely to develop a cold than those who slept for seven hours. If you skip it or develop erratic sleeping patterns it can cause you to be more vulnerable.
A good night's sleep is a pillar of good health. It provides our body, mind and spirit necessary rest to take on everything that life my throw at us. Otherwise, your immune system could weaken, leading to health risks and complications. One sign that you are lacking sleep is when 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.
5. 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 without the nutrients your body needs.
You don't need to go on a diet. The trick is to eat a nutritious snack before you leave the house. Something like greek yogurt or foods that are protein rich. 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 that third piece of pumpkin pie.
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.
6. Choose your battles at the table
You don't have to consume everything at every meal. Planning out your recipes and choosing what you will be eating is good practice for your body. It helps make sure the foods you consume have the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Moreover, eating the right foods during holiday meals means you're not bound to feel flat or sluggish, affecting your overall mood and well being. Remember: balance is key.
Incorporate more protein, fruits and vegetables as well as healthy fats like oily fish into your cooking, recipes and meals. This allows you to feel fuller for a longer period of time. Plus, it ensures you're getting the right nutrition from your food that you need. so you can focus your attention on spending time with family members.
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.
7. Bring nutritious food to the table
There are tons of foods you can incorporate in your cooking during the holiday season. This can help especially if you're not the one hosting people over.
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.
8. 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.
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.
9. 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.
10. 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 the constant flow of events 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.
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.
11. 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.
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. From the entire team at First Day we hope you have a happy holidays
Alice is the Founder and CEO of First Day, leading an amazing group of people who believe in a very simple idea: providing better health that’s accessible to everyone.
Alice spent two years, working with Harvard and Yale advisors to comb through 35,000 clinically backed studies, create 17 prototypes, and 30 flavor profiles to develop real-food vitamin gummies that work. Since then, over 70,000 families have tried First Day.