Tips for a healthy holiday season

The holidays are in full swing, so it is totally justified to serenade your roommate with carols and rock out to Pandora’s Michael Buble station while studying in a public place. We can already smell the turkey and sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner. Once Thanksgiving passes, ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” will start up just in time to distract you from studying for finals by playing all of your favorite holiday movies on repeat — Elf, anyone? In lieu of all the wonderful things that happen during the holidays, they can also be an extremely tempting and stressful time that makes it easy to break your healthy eating and exercising habits. With countless ugly-holiday-sweater parties, holiday cookies galore — not to mention the approaching finals season — it can become difficult to maintain healthy habits. We have five tips to help you achieve a healthier holiday season. Cue the silver bells!

1. Keep up with your routine 

Don’t skip out on your Tuesday morning yoga class or weekly run date because it’s “too cold” or raining, or because you just can’t seem to get out of bed. Daylight saving time gives you an extra hour of sunlight in the morning, so wake up a tad bit earlier and get moving. You won’t regret it. Schedule your workouts into your calendar, and don’t make excuses to skip out on one, two, three or 10 days in a row. You will feel better mentally and physically for an optimal holiday and finals season.

2. Be mindful about treats 

Holiday treats are so tempting because they are decorated and taste delicious, but all of the calories and sugar start to add up. If you’re not burning off these calories by increasing your activity level, you will start to see the holiday weight gain. Think about the treats that are meaningful to you, such as Aunt Nancy’s pecan pie and Grandma’s sugar cookies. These treats will be more special if you limit your indulgences to the sweets that are connected with holiday traditions. If you want to try a new dessert, savor a small portion of it and continue on your way.

3. Schedule walks — not coffee

Ask a friend to go for a walk instead of coffee. Or, better yet, walk to a coffee shop that is farther away! Increase your speed by walking briskly and then the date becomes a double whammy, catching up with a friend (socially and in terms of your walking pace) and burning extra calories. Getting outside is so good for you because it can lead to decreased stress levels, decreased risk of depression, a natural increase of Vitamin D and an increase in your quality of sleep. There’s no excuse to stay put after reading about those few benefits.

4. Be the health nut 

Break the status quo and bring a fruit, vegetable or nut and cheese tray — instead of sweets — to your next holiday party. This strategy helps you to ensure that there is a healthy option to choose from and keeps the potluck selection fresh. Choose fruit that is in season, such as pears, apples, pomegranate or grapefruit, for a perfect balance of tree fruit and citrus. Your friends will thank you, and so will your waistline!

5. Create new traditions

Traditions do not always have to be surrounded by food. Create new holiday traditions with your friends and family to get some blood flowing and create lasting memories. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen with your friends, suggest that your family sign up to complete a Thanksgiving Day 5K race together, coordinate a “Turkey Bowl” flag football game, or even plan a ski trip to Lake Tahoe.

The holidays are the most wonderful time of year, and you are constantly surrounded by friends and family. Stay positive, and remember what you’re thankful for. It’s OK to slip up a few times by eating too many slices of pumpkin pie, but just try not to do it every night. We hope these tips help you to have a healthier holiday season!

Image Source: looseends from Creative Commons

Contact Rebecca Stifter at [email protected].