Managing Your Health as You Celebrate the Holidays

by Grace Rivers, RDN, CDCES

Managing your health through the holidays can be done with a few mindful approaches. No matter your beliefs, you can enjoy every bite you take, whether it’s from the dinner table or from that box of chocolates you keep staring at on the kitchen counter. Know what you can do to stay resilient and healthy as you celebrate the holidays.

Move as much as you can

When you get busy with the holidays, your days quickly disappear. Before you know it, your day is gone, and you never exercised! You can get on top of this by realizing that any moderate to vigorous movement during the day can provide health benefits. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes at once. The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans removed the timing of the 10-minute sessions.

You are managing your health as you move. Exercise in the morning, if possible, and from there, anything you do beyond that is a plus for you! Physical activity can be a potent sleep aid. Doing exercise reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and the progressing of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Bundle up and step outside for fresh air and movement. Dress in layers to keep your body core warm, and so you can shed a few pieces if needed. You will feel better, and moving will improve insulin sensitivity, leading to better-managed blood sugar.

Making the best choices as you celebrate the holidays

Consume fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds daily for the best armor in staying well.

Snack before going to a holiday goody party. When you walk in hungry, you can quickly lose control of your food choices and how much you are eating and drinking if you are famished.  A healthy snack such as these can provide you with some sustenance.

  • An orange with pecans
  • A pear with pumpkin seeds
  • Fresh low-carb veggies with hummus

Drink plenty of water, especially if including alcohol. Excessive alcohol can lead to dehydration and make you feel tired. And you know that high blood sugar can make you sleepy. If you have a drink, remember to name your designated driver.

The moment to eat has arrived

You know there will be more food than you planned, so how do you handle all that food coming at you?

Enjoy the holidays and remember that this is just one time of year, so there is no need to beat yourself up about what you eat. Try to relax and when that indulgent sweet or creamy fat-filled food appears before you, consider a smaller serving, and savor it!

It’s ok to eat foods you don’t usually eat instead of what you can eat any time of the year. That doesn’t mean only eating those foods but be fair with yourself and delight in the flavors of foods you don’t usually have before you. Take brown rice, for example. If you include it in your meals often, then pass over it for another food choice you only see this time of year.

Get those ZZZs

If you have trouble sleeping, be aware that food choices may make a difference in how well you sleep. Eating too many rich foods may interfere with your sleep, as determined by a randomized- crossover study. Also, studies show that lack of sleep can lead to overeating.

Alcohol may cause you to fall asleep quickly, but it interferes with your quality sleep later during the night. What you can do is enjoy your bites – all of them – and remember that exercise and consumption of healthy foods may lead to a better night’s sleep and better enjoyment of your holiday season.

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