Strategies for a Healthful Holiday

holiday-partyAs you look over this month’s calendar are your weekends filling up with social events which will involve the gathering of friends and family, not to mention a variety of tasty morsels and assorted bubbly or creamy drinks.

Have past holiday seasons left you with extra pounds displayed on your scale, a pesky foggy brain, lagging energy, and a nagging sense of “oops, I’ve done it again”?

You can choose to change your path and discover a new way to approach the holidays. No matter your past experiences, you aren’t destined to repeat the same cycle. Let’s explore some strategies to help keep you energized through the holidays and in better balance as you enter the new year.

Stay Hydrated – a simple strategy that has turned my life around. It’s not unusual for us to feel hungry rather than thirsty when we are actually dehydrated. When you next feel hungry outside of mealtime, drink a full glass of water and wait 10 minutes to re-evaluate whether you are hungry. On the day of a party, make a point of drinking 5 glasses of water prior to going to the event, The added hydration will help to reduce your inclination to overindulge. Give sleep a priority in your schedule and you will get more done during your day.

Choose Realistic Exercise – rather than abandoning your normal gym routine, look for ways to incorporate short spurts of movement during your day. Just 30 minutes a day – even six 5-minute or three 10-minute segments – will benefit your body. That can include parking further away from your office building or the store so that you get some extra steps. And if you work in a building with stairs, use them instead of the elevator! Set an alarm on your watch or phone to remind you to walk for a few minutes every hour. There are many ways to move each day!

For those social events you will attend, there are several suggestions I would offer:

Eat Before the Party – don’t starve yourself through the day thinking you will have a bigger allowance for calories at the party. The hunger resulting from this approach is more likely to drive you to overindulge. Instead, eat a small snack focused on high-fiber, raw vegetables with a glass of water, or a green smoothie to help curb your appetite and provide a boost of energy.

Plan Your Plate – rather than picking up a plate at one end of the buffet and carefully stacking as much food as you can fit on it, take a minute to stroll down the buffet table and plan what items are most important to include on your plate and what you can pass up. Then pick up your plate and follow your plan.

Step Away from the Table – when you find someone you wish to spend time talking with, position yourselves away from the table in order to avoid mindlessly snacking while you visit. This helps you to focus more on the people at the event rather than being sucked in by the food.

Limit Your Alcohol – sorry, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my responsibility to you if I didn’t warm you of the effect that alcohol has on your digestion. Since alcohol enters your bloodstream quickly, it diverts the focus of the liver to processing it, putting digestion on hold while this happens. Combine this with higher levels of processed sugar that you are likely eating, and you have a recipe for added fat storage and possible indigestion. Perhaps alternate alcoholic drinks with sparkling water and juice or lime slices in order to relieve the burden on your liver and improve your digestion?

Your life – and your health – is worth too much to simply fall into the holidays and hope that you come out in January without having done too much damage. Plan your approach to carry you through the demands of the season and help you enter the new year as a victor.

Did any of these strategies ring true for you? What will your first step be? If you have found another idea to support your success, I’d love to hear it.


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