How to Have a Healthy Holiday
Staying healthy during the holidays doesn’t have to be a bore. Use this colorful time of year to be creative in the kitchen with healthy holiday treats, involve your family and friends in a fit lifestyle and remain physically active in many fun ways. Here you will find wonderfully fun tips to enjoy the season so you can have a happy and healthy holiday.
Eat earlier in the day, with your last meal no later than 6 pm. Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm that includes peak times for digestion. In fact, our digestion is stronger during the middle of the day and tapers off the rest of the day. The evening is when your body naturally slows down and prepares for a good night’s sleep, so eating late can lead to poor digestion or a sluggish metabolism. In fact, late eating is known to promote metabolism dysfunction and contribute to weight gain. On the other hand, studies published in theJournal of Obesity showed that eating early in the day had a major impact on appetite control, which facilitated weight loss. And even better, fat oxidation increased, so eating earlier helps your body burn fat more easily.
Leave the guilt behind, enjoy an occasional holiday treat, and get right back on track. Of course, we can’t always finish our meals before 6 pm, especially if there are holiday parties on the schedule. But feeling guilty or being overly rigid can lead one to give up on all fitness goals until temptation fades with the New Year. But this can add 10 – 15 extra pounds, and losing it can seem like an uphill battle. Instead, make a commitment to enjoy an occasional treat or party, and get right back on track. For example, if you have a work party and the food is too good to pass up, enjoy small portions that won’t leave you sluggish, and fill your plate with vegetables when possible. And you can add a few minutes to your workout or take a short walk to help burn off those extra calories.
Swap unhealthy dishes for healthy alternatives. Many of the holiday foods we look forward to can be fattening and include ingredients that will make you sleepy and unmotivated. So, find healthy alternatives for the foods you love and enjoy them. Keto recipes are full of treats that swap the sugar for healthy alternatives like stevia, and still, taste amazing. Sweet potatoes can be delicious without brown sugar or marshmallows; just bake them until the natural sugars seep out for a treat that’s just as sweet. Stuffing can be made healthier, such as the Paleo stuffing that uses only almond flour and a ton of healthy ingredients like mushrooms, celery, apples, and onions. Other holiday treat alternatives include high protein, low-fat eggnog, avocado feta dip, and wine spritzers made with sugar-free sparkling water.
Speaking of healthy treat alternatives, get creative with healthy holiday snacks. Since the holiday is filled with parties and seasonal treats, now is the time to have fun. Experiment by swapping high sugar treats or unhealthy fat snacks with healthier versions. Making healthy holiday appetizers can turn into a fun project with your kids, or simply allow your creativity to flow in the kitchen for your next party. Carve a bell pepper into a jack-o-lantern and fill with your favorite healthy chili or use a spiralizer to make zucchini “worms” to add instead. Carve an orange into a jack-o-lantern and fill it with Jell-O for the kids. Many foods are easy and fun to make like banana and raspberry snowmen with raisin eyes or watermelon Christmas trees. A grownup party can be jazzed up with a bright red beet hummus or glazed cocktail meatballs. So, get creative, volunteer to bring your favorite healthy dish to a party, and stay on a healthy track while still enjoying yourself.
Organize a weekend sports competition with family and friends, and enjoy the holidays while allowing your inner child to play. Winter sports can include ice skating, cross-country skiing, sledding, ski biking, snowshoeing, or old-fashioned snow play. Challenge your friends and family to keep track of their holiday activities with a fitness tracker and compare them at the end of the season. You can measure activities such as how many miles each person ice skates, how far does each person snowshoe or how many cross-country ski miles get logged. To keep it sociable without interfering with holiday schedules, organize one weekend a month to get together and enjoy the winter activities together.
Enter the whole family and friends into a holiday race. From Turkey Trots during Thanksgiving to Elf Runs and Jingle Bell races in December, everyone can stay physically active and have a chance to win prizes and even give back to the community. Many races are charitable events, which is a great teaching opportunity for children and encourages family bonding at the same time. Most holiday runs and races are capped with a festival or celebration at the end, which is another way to enjoy the holiday season with friends and family members. But fitness is not limited to the one-day race; once you commit, set goals and small rewards on the days leading up to the race, so physical activity becomes an enjoyable part of your entire holiday season. Yes.Fit has quite a few holiday races you can do with your family from all over to keep you motivated through the holiday season
To ensure your healthy holiday season is well rounded, be sure to stay hydrated. Many of us live in climates that are cold during the entire holiday season. This means we have to be extra careful about drinking water, especially if you are consuming more alcohol or sugary treats than normal. But water also helps regulate body temperature in cold weather and can give your immune system a boost by helping flush out excess sodium and toxins that can build up during the winter season.
Above all, relax and don’t let stress ruin your holidays or your health. Focus on what matters most; family and friends and the celebration of life. And staying healthy helps you keep a healthier mindset all year round, so get out there and enjoy.