The winter holiday season tends to be a high-risk time for potential weight gain and/or illness. A popular study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that Americans gain about an average of 1 pound during the months of November-January, which isn’t surprising as these months coincide with elaborate feasts, holiday parties, cocktails, and an abundance of high fat, high sugar foods. Winter is also the prime of cold and flu season when temperatures are cooler and people spend more time indoors together, therefore increasing the chance of transmission of infections. Below are some of our top tips for staying healthy through the holidays.
As a general rule I recommend aiming for ½ of your body weight in ounces of water per day. Drinking water can help curb your appetite so you don’t overeat and helps your skin look more radiant for photos. Bring your refillable water bottle with you when shopping and traveling and remember to alternate a glass of water between adult beverages to avoid dehydration.
Eat for immunity
Scan the buffet at parties for the veggies and fruits which contain vitamins and minerals that boost your immune system. Aim to fill half of your plate, which leaves less room for less healthier options.
Upgrade your favorites
Instead of avoiding those comfort foods try making them by swapping ingredients in the classic recipes to make them gluten free, with less or no sugar, or find a way to ditch the creams and heavy sauces.
Intuitive eating is not about denying yourself of foods. Instead, make conscious choices and use all of your senses to truly savor your food; focus on smell, sight, touch, taste, and sound. Listen to your body’s feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Give yourself grace if you do overindulge a bit.
Eat before event or before shopping
You will be more likely to be drawn to high sugar, high fat, foods or over eat those foods at events if you show up hungry. Shopping on an empty stomach will lead you to be more tempted by those snacks at the checkout counter or by the smell of cinnamon at the mall so don’t go out on an empty tank.
Move your body
If can be challenging to find time between events or when traveling to stick to a good routine so you may need to find creative ways to stay active. Try walking after meals instead of plopping on the couch, or do an online workout video if you don’t have access to a gym. Take the stairs instead of escalators or elevators or park farther away from the door in the parking lots.
Sleep deprivation can lead to increased cravings, mood and behavior changes, and less energy to fully enjoy the holiday festivities. Minimize alcohol consumption as it decreases the quality of your sleep and rest.
Take time for self-care
The holidays are notorious for increasing stress levels due to travel, family dynamics, financial burden, or expectations to make everything perfect. Between cleaning, cooking, and shopping do something that makes you happy and helps you to recharge. Take a nap, get a massage, or respectfully say no to things that cause you stress or anxiety.
Focus on what really matters
The holidays are about togetherness and quality time, not about the perfect present or cookies and treats. Find ways to create new healthy traditions- Instead of baking cookies, make ornaments or start a new tradition like running in a Frosty 5K or volunteering at the food pantry.
Take your vitamins
While our nutritional goals may be clear, the path to attaining them can sometimes be filled with obstacles. Whether you want to lose or gain weight, modify your diet due to an illness or condition, or simply eat smarter, a nutritionist can help you safely and confidently achieve those goals. If you would like to make an appointment, please call 703-532-4892, ext. 2. No doctor referral is needed.