Top Ten Healthy Habits for the Holidays

Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, there are plenty of opportunities to splurge on extras and skimp on exercise. (Not to mention the Halloween candy that’s left to munch on!) Here are some tips for maintenance through the holidays that should take you right into the start of 2012.

Naughty or nice? Learn to differentiate between naughty and nice holiday fares. Go for that second helping of turkey, but skip the gravy and extra helping of carb-stuffed dressing.

Eat slower. Eating slower allows time for your stomach to tell your brain when you’re actually full. People eat much less when they chew longer, set their fork down between bites and wait several seconds before the next fork full. Try it the next time you dine; you’ll be surprised how much less you’ll eat and still be fully satisfied.

Go lightly. Prepare salads with less dressing, and reduce the gravy on savories. Small sacrifices here can amount to less time in the gym later.

Eat first. Enjoy a protein-packed snack such as nuts or reduced-fat cheese to curb your hunger before gathering for a family feast.

Splurge wisely. Depriving oneself of holiday goodies can backfire, making one crave the food even more, often leading to overeating. Pick what to splurge on rather than mindlessly grazing on everything. And resist going back for that second or third treat. Those calories go on a lot easier than they come off.

Think before you drink. The buffet table is not the only culprit that can pack on the pounds. Drink water at parties or family gatherings. You’ll feel better and take in far fewer calories.

Don’t skip meals. Many people fast all day to “save up” calories for the big dinner. But this method is actually counter-productive. As we do this, our bodies slip into starvation mode. When we do finally splurge, our bodies hold onto the fat longer—as a precaution—pending another fasting episode. Instead, eat fibrous veggies, reduced-fat cheese and nuts with plenty of water throughout the day.

Keep goodies away from the house. While you cannot control what is brought into the office or what is available at parties, you can limit the number of sweets and snacks that are at your house. Provide better choices at home such as whole grain crackers, fruits, veggies and low-fat dips.

Stay active. Between colder weather and earlier evenings, many skip the exercise routine, promising to pick it back up January 1. Make time to stay active throughout the season so there’s less weight to combat in the New Year. Simple strategies like parking farther away from the department store door, wearing a pedometer while shopping or walking with a faster pace through the mall will also burn some of those extra holiday calories.

Take care. Make time to take care of yourself—physically, mentally and spiritually. Go for a walk, spend time in prayer and in God’s Word, sleep in when you can, read inspiring literature and sing along to your favorite Christmas songs. The holidays are often stressful for many people, but this year, choose to experience the joy, excitement and wonder of it all by remembering what it was like when you were a kid. And if you have kids, join them by seeing these special days through their eyes.

Here’s wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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