Staying Healthy During The Holidays…
During winter holidays we get busy and very merry. Christmas parties, going out with friends, travelling, hard to resist food and alcohol. A recent study on holiday weight gain published in New England Journal of Medicine suggests that an average person gains around 1 pound during the winter holidays. While it doesn’t seem like a lot, according to the researchers this weight is not lost during summer months and contributes to the overall weight gain in the adult life. Excess body fat, especially so called “white fat” contributes to the overall inflammation and can potentially lead to chronic health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalances and many other modern diseases.
Staying healthy doesn’t have to be a difficult battle with oneself. These simple strategies will help you keep a healthy weight and avoid health consequences of overindulging during the holidays.
1) Nutrition. Prevention is the key! It is much easier to avoid weight gain than to try to loose pounds. Be conscious of what you eat and why you eat. Are you really hungry? or are you eating because you are stressed and tired? Try drinking at least 2 liters of water a day, as we often confuse thirst with hunger. Coffee makes us hungrier for carbs and sugar 3-4 hours later, so opt for green tea instead, it will give you a much needed energy boost. Bulk up on vegetables, vegetables contain most of the nutrients we need to stay healthy, they are a great source of fiber, high vegetable consumption has been linked to better health. Plan your meals ahead, eat something healthy before going to a party, when you are hungry you are more likely to make bad food choices. If you overindulge, do not let it become an excuse for more bad decisions.
2) Quality sleep is one of the three pillars of the health. Studies show that lack of sleep leads to an increase in subsequent calorie consumption and sugar cravings. Sleep problems are linked to hormonal imbalances that promote further weight gain. To maintain healthy sleep habits go to bed at the same time every day. Sleep in a dark room with a comfortable temperature. Limit screen time before bed, read a book or take a relaxing bath. Alcohol and sugar disrupt sleep, especially in the second half of the sleeping cycle. Tolerance to the sedative effects of the alcohol develops rather quickly and eventually we need more to fall asleep. To drink less alcohol during the holidays, aim at 1 glass of water for every glass of wine.
3) Exercise. Holidays are not an excuse to stop moving. Walk and take the stairs as much as you can. If you have social functions planned for the evening, try to go to the gym before work. A simple 10-minute circuit workout can help you maintain your current fitness level. Plan outdoor family activities with friends and family. You will feel better physically and mentally and will have fewer cravings.
Staying healthy during holidays is not hard it just takes a little bit of planning. This holiday season aim to be a little more self-conscious than in the past. It will help you to have more healthy habits in the New Year.