And no, I won’t be telling you the key is to avoid all the yummy food, alcohol and parties. Its actually possible to enjoy the season, and minimize the negative effects. Who’d have thought?! Indulging a little is absolutely fine, especially when its a ‘once a year’ occasion. The biggest thing we all need to remember at this time of year is to take the time to breathe and relax. Taking a couple of deep breaths, especially when the weather may not cooperate with your travel plans, when your mom’s first words might be that you look tired, or your siblings tell you your new haircut is too short! Letting go of the little things and taking a deep breath means you’re already half way to making it through unscathed.
Now to the good stuff. What can you do to help balance all the food, partying, less sleep and less exercise? The biggest pitfalls of the season tend to be the excessive calories, the extra alcohol, and the lack of physical activity. Add these to the stress that comes along with the holidays for most people and say hello to extra pounds, less time enjoying your loved ones and extra health repercussions! So what can you do?
- Use nutrients to your advantage: Increasing fibre in your holiday meals will not only help to keep you regular, it will also help to reduce the amount of dietary fat you absorb and how fast you absorb sugar. Sprinkling a little ground flax on meals, choosing to add a few extra veggies or fruits to your plate or drinking a quick fibre drink before your meals are an easy solution. And grabbing a cup of green tea instead of a cup of coffee not only spares the sugar and cream, it provides beneficial nutrients.
- Give yourself a basic calorie budget: Do your best to stick to it, and don’t stress too much if you stray a little. If you know you have a party packed day, or a lot of holiday dinners, plan ahead. If you have a holiday dinner or party, simply make sure you have a lighter lunch and snacks. Making sure you have these lighter meals through the day makes you less likely to binge later. Want to have your piece of pie...or two? Just try to go a little easier on supper or scarifice certain items like the extra scoop or rice or slice of bread.
- Make wiser choices: If you’re having a sugary treat, add in a little protein (a handful of almond, a little cube of cheese or a dallop of greek yogurt) or have something packed with fibre. Choose to load up on the salsa instead of the spinach dip and other creamy sauces, dishes and drinks.
- Take your vitamins. Alcohol depletes key vitamins such as a number of the B vitamins, and keeping yourself well nourished helps prevent damage and hangovers. Ask your healthcare professional today for a recommendation of vitamins that work best for you.
- Drink in moderation. The more you drink, the more damage you're causing to your body. Moderation, as with everything else, is key.
- Be selective in your alcohol choices. Red wine, for instance, contains resveratrol and other beneficial nutrients that protect your body. If you have issues with wheat, gluten avoid drinks like beer. When choosing your drinks its best to avoid those with artificial colors and flavors, and sweeteners.
- Stay well hydrated! Dehydration makes you feel ill and gives you a headache. Alcohol acts as a diuretic and makes urinate more. A key is to have water when drinking and after.
Make activity fun and get the family involved! Snowboarding, skiing, and impromptu dance parties or snowball fights are all acceptable. Or volunteer to take care of some housework to get your body moving. Every bit counts!
Its all about balance! You are allowed to enjoy the holidays and yourself. Slipping out of your health habit occasionally is fine, as long as you’re smart about it.
Have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!
For more specific strategies on how to survive the holidays, give me a call today to book a visit and use up your leftover 2012 insurance or health spending account.