Healthy support through the holidays
Many of us find it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle over the holidays when our minds and our bodies want to take a break too.
You may be away on vacation and unable to attend your regular gym, and there is always an abundance of deliciousness, but not necessarily healthy food available at holiday celebrations, particularly the feasts of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Passover.
Furthermore, for some people the holidays signify a time of stress or grief, rather than the happy times they mark for most.
It might be the first time celebrating an occasion without a recently lost loved one, and the flurry of party planning, shopping and organizing around these times can add a lot to an already busy schedule.
We take a look at some of the healthier options to support you – mentally and physically – through the often-demanding holiday periods.
Dealing with stress and grief during times of celebration
Frequently the flawless celebration we imagined in our head doesn’t work out the way we planned, and this can be stressful. Try to be genuine in your anticipation of the event – it is seldom as picture perfect as we perceive it to be and how television commercials portray the ultimate holiday celebration.
Keep your parties and dinners as simple as possible to reduce your stress.
Alternatively, plan your menu and ask everyone to contribute a specific dish or to bring something along for a pot-luck style meal.
Before you go out shopping for food and gifts, draw up a budget and more importantly, stick to it. Financial strain over the holidays can really put a damper on your enjoyment of the occasion. It can cause prolonged stress if you have to pay back debt long after the holiday has come and gone.
A positive and grateful attitude enables you to focus on the important aspects of the holidays you celebrate. Be thankful for the “little” things, the food on your plate and the family and friends surrounding you; these are actually the big things to be appreciative of.
Thinking positively and counting your blessings is known to improve your mood and overall sense of well-being. If your mindset is right, everything else just seems to fall into place.
Take time to process your grief
Everyone manages grief differently. It is OK if you are still mourning the loss of a loved one, a relationship or even a pet. Take your time to deal with it in your own way, but try to rather focus on the positive aspects of what you have lost, such as fond memories. This will help to keep your mindset optimistic and improve your overall well-being.
Take care of your health with probiotics
Taking care of your gut health goes a long way in helping you combat stress. The better you feel, the more you are able to face demanding situations head-on.
Emotional stress depletes the amount of good bacteria in your digestive system, so give it a boost with a good probiotic if you’re feeling stressed.
How to handle overindulgence – either reactively or pro-actively!
While the holidays generally signify a well-deserved break and lots of special treats, keep in mind that the average American gains almost a pound over the six-week period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Use these tips and tricks to avoid packing on those unwanted pounds.
It’s so easy to forego your regular exercise routine over the holidays, but put in the effort to keep it up which will help to combat holiday weight gain. Even just going for a brisk walk after a meal has significant benefits like aiding your metabolism and digestion, and potentially keeping you away from that second helping of food!
If at all possible, try to maintain your usual exercise schedule.
Staying in your routine makes it so much easier to return to your usual lifestyle when the holidays are over, instead of having to go through the getting-back-into-it process once life goes back to normal.
High days and holidays often involve an increase in alcohol consumption, which can lead to dehydration. Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage to help you stay hydrated, and another glass or two before bed to help ward off hangover symptoms.
Most people need at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to remain optimally hydrated; if you’re finding it difficult to consume so much water try some herbal tea, like green tea or Red bush tea which also counts towards your fluid intake.
The holiday festivities bring with them a wide array of delicious food to feast on, not all of it healthy unfortunately. Whilst there is nothing wrong with having a treat to celebrate a special occasion, try to choose your indulgence wisely.
By all means have that Thanksgiving turkey but rather opt for the dark meat which is higher in healthful fat and slightly lower in protein. Load your plate up with vegetables, and go easy on any starchy, carb-loaded fare on offer.
Don’t make the mistake of starving yourself for a whole day in anticipation of a wonderful feast ahead; the chances are you’ll eat everything you can lay your hands on and end up consuming way more than you intended.
Eat wisely before feasting, on regular and wholesome meals so that you are less likely to gorge on stuffing and sweets later on.
Research shows that your meal size can be reduced by up to 15% just from chewing your food thoroughly before swallowing. Chewing properly breaks the food down into smaller pieces that are more easily digested and allows your intestines to absorb more nutrients as it passes through.
It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full. Chewing thoroughly and slowly aids in decreasing your portion sizes making you aware of being full before reaching the point of having overeaten, or going for a second helping!
There is no reason to feel that you’re being cheated when making health-conscious choices – you are the one that benefits in the long run by giving your body what it needs to stay fit and healthy.
The holidays can be a tough time to stay committed to a healthful lifestyle, and there is no reason not to indulge from time to time. The thing to remember is to do so wisely and within reasonable limits to negate the potential harm overindulgence can have on your health, weight, wallet and stress levels.