Welcome to the Holidays, that season of societally sanctioned excess! Is it possible to be festive and fit; to be glorious without being gluttonous; to eat, drink and be merry and healthy, wealthy and wise? Granted, this is not the time of year to try and shed those pesky 5 pounds but indulging without sacrificing is attainable by setting a few goals and limits. Its called Balance, with a capitol “B”. A yearly reminder of helpful strategies to avoid overindulging in food, drink and stress by paying close attention to our minds, body and spirit can help us all maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle in what is arguably the happiest time of the year.
The myth of the inevitable 10-pound holiday gain is just that, a myth. Most people gain about 1 pound during the holidays, so relax.
- Remember to practice mindfulness minutes.
- Stretching first thing in the morning and again before bed, practice some deep breathing, being still and quiet, doing yoga or meditation are all suggestions.
- Try to take a few minutes each day just for yourself.
DON’T SKIP MEALS
Keeping your body fueled, fuels your metabolism.
- Arriving at the office celebration in starvation mode defeats the purpose of skipping lunch.
- Eat healthy.
- Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are holiday food, too.
- Try to stick with fiber rich foods that are high in volume, low in fat, salt, sugar and calories that will satisfy your hunger.
USE SMALL PLATES
It looks like more food than it is. Appetizers typically are 60 calories a bite, so count to 5 and quit.
- Simple multiplication can help monitor your intake.
- Buffet-style meals generally lead to 2nd and 3rd helpings so first fill your plate with fruit, veggies or salad.
- Drink a lot of water or a cup of hot herbal tea.
- Try to wait 10 minutes before that 2nd serving.
BEWARE OF FOOD PUSHERS
You are an adult. You don’t have to eat something just to make your Aunt Adeline happy. You can practice this one-word, complete sentence mantra. No.
Maybe we are too busy to make it to the gym but there are many other options for maintaining fitness in the privacy and comfort of your own surroundings. The recommended minimum is ½ hour per day.
- Videos are available on YouTube from Power Walking and dancing like Zumba to simple stretching or yoga.
- Take a walk after dinner, walk in the mall, play basketball or catch with the kids or try those Wii interactive games.
Weigh yourself daily or use your favorite jeans as your tape measure. The point is to be aware without being obsessive. Maintaining healthy behaviors as much as possible now means January 1st won’t loom so threateningly.
DRINK LIKE YOUR MOTHER IS WATCHING
That is called moderation and balance.
- Women should have no more than 3 drinks on any occasion and ideally no more that 7 per week.
- Keep it on the rocks. Ice dilutes your drink, creates more liquid so you avoid the quick buzz and can nurse a drink longer.
- Using carbonated soda water as a mixer keeps your adult beverage at approximately 100 calories.
- Do not drink and drive. Period. Wear your seat belt. Use a driving service like the local cab company, Uber or Lyft.
Late nights can make you fat. People who sleep less over time tend to be heavier. It doesn’t take long for the sleep cycle to be disrupted. Missing a few hours each night can cause your body to release hormones that prompt eating.
- Catch up on the weekend if possible and pay attention to your sleep-debt and adjust accordingly.
- Take a nap.
- Watch for caffeine that can be lurking in favorite holiday treats.
- Hot Chocolate contains caffeine and so do Extra Strength Excedrin caplets.
- Watch fat intake as this requires the digestive tract to work harder. While the body is busy doing that, sleep can be elusive.
The objective is to avoid or mitigate stress or the blues.
- Reduce or avoid people, places and things that cause feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control.
- You can say “No, thank you.”
- Increasing vitamin D intake has been found to improve mood so lift your face to the sun for a few minutes.
- Stay off Social Media. People post their personal best, perfectly perceived news almost exclusively. Comparisons can stifle your joy.
- Anticipate something fun for January. Making plans can lift spirits. Plans for the new year that include hitting the re-set button need to be realistic, sustainable goals.
Remembering the simple 80/20 rule will help navigate this holiday season. Concentrate 80% of your intake to healthy, nourishing foods and 20% of your calories to indulgences. When it starts to feel like 70/30 or 60/40, you will intuitively know it and adjust accordingly. This is a blessed and joyous time of year so celebrate life and its many wonderful aspects.
Here are some great articles for your deeper dive:
RealSimple 17 Holiday Health Tips
Mayo Clinic Healthy Holiday Nutrition Tips
SUGGESTIONS FOR A POST HOLIDAY HEALTH DETOX:
- Calorie Bombs: Lingering IED’s from the season hiding in your pantry
- Organize Kitchen Cupboards: Healthy foods to the front
- Reset Exercise: Daily activity is the best way to start your day
- Breakfast: Eat breakfast every day, preferably at home in your controlled environment
- Eat Light at Night: Fewer calories at night help you sleep better
- 7-8 Hours of Sleep: Sleep disturbances are related to weight gain
- It Takes A Village: Surround yourself with like-minded people. Family, friends, walking/workout partners must be on board to support not sabotage your efforts
NHS Solutions wishes you and yours a merry, healthy, and happy holiday season. Many of our interim healthcare leaders will be working over Christmas and we want to extend a special thanks to those individuals who are taking on this responsibility that knows no holidays!