There is so much to love about the holiday season, from spending time with friends and family, to fun festivities, to cooking and eating delicious and elaborate meals. However, some of the things that make the holidays so great can also affect your health. What can you do to stay healthy during the holidays? Read on for some tips that can help!
Staying hydrated is always super important, but it’s especially crucial during the colder winter months. 60% of our body weight is water, so we need to stay hydrated to maintain this ratio. Water is essential for important bodily functions, such as delivering nutrients and maintaining our cells’ fluids.
Drink water as much as you can throughout the day and try limiting your intake of high-calorie drinks such as alcohol, soda, juice, etc. If you decide to partake in alcoholic beverages during the holidays, make sure you alternate glasses of water between your cocktails, your body will much appreciate it!
If you’re traveling during the holidays, keep in mind that low humidity at high altitudes makes plane cabin air dry. Our airways are more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses at this time, so staying well-hydrated can keep your mucous membranes moist, helping to keep bugs out of your system.
Before settling down in your seat on the plane, train, or bus, wipe off any armrests, tray tables, latches, seatbelts, and air vents and let them air dry. By cleaning anything you might touch, you’re making it harder to pick up any germs from anyone who sat there before you.
If you’re out doing some holiday shopping, take a second to wipe down the cart or basket. Many big retail stores offer disinfecting wipes in the cart area. With so many people shopping during this time, it’s more important than ever to wipe away any germs!
Help prevent infections
Speaking of germs… another great way to spread them is through hugs, kisses, and handshakes. You can help prevent infections such as the flu and colds by washing your hands well and often, and keeping them away from your eyes, mouth, and nose. When coughing or sneezing, you’ll want to cover your mouth with your elbows.
One great thing to keep with you is some antibacterial hand gel! A little bottle of this can go a long way in protecting yourself from the viruses you’re likely to come into contact with during the holiday season.
It’s also important to try to keep your distance from people who present cold symptoms. I know it can be hard to do that at family gatherings, but try your best! And if you are feeling sick, make sure you stay in bed and get some rest.
Be aware of foodborne illnesses
According to the CDC, more than 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses every year. Since much of the holidays can consist of cooking and eating a bunch of wonderful food, make sure you take the time to thoroughly clean utensils, cook food to their recommended temperatures, and properly store your perishable food items.
Don’t neglect exercise
It can be easy to forget about your exercise routine during the holiday season, especially if you’re traveling, decorating, or planning a big party. But you should still prioritize and find time for exercise, as it is essential for good health.
A fun way to get away from all the holiday stress and bustle is to take an exercise class, such as karate! Not only do you get your dose of physical activity, but this is a time to unwind and focus on improving yourself and staying fit, strong, and healthy for your family.
Like I mentioned before, food is a major theme during the holiday season. However, food excess can lead to digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux and indigestion. The best way to prevent these problems is to moderate the amount of food you eat, and the best way to do that is by knowing when you’ve had enough.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Take your time eating. It takes the brain around 20 minutes to let you know when you’re full.
- Go easy on appetizers, sauces, and deserts so you can leave room for healthier choices.
- Fill half of your plate with vegetables and make sure you drink plenty of water (this will help you with digestion).
- Don’t force yourself to eat everything. Instead, choose the things you enjoy the most.
Choose healthy alternatives
Just by making a few simple tweaks to your holiday recipes, you can enjoy the holiday foods you love without packing on all the pounds. Here are some easy substitutes you can make:
- Substitute mashed potatoes with sweet potatoes.
- Substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt.
- Swap heavy dips (like spinach dip and blue cheese dip) for healthy bean-based dips and homemade hummus.
- Choose broth-based soups rather than cream-based ones.
- Choose lighter cheeses like feta cheese, soft goat cheese, and cottage cheese.
- Eat roasted veggies and lightly dressed salads before going for the ham or green bean casserole.
You can also pack healthy snacks that will help you fight temptation throughout the day. Look for things that are less than 150 calories, have good fiber, and low sugar. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks:
- A piece of fruit
- An ounce of nuts
- Low-fat Greek yogurt
- Low-fat string cheese
- Granola bar
Invest in some “me time”
The holidays can be a fun and happy time, but they can also be exhausting and overwhelming at points for some people. If you start to feel tired, you risk reaching exhaustion and ultimately increasing your level of stress. Between all the shopping, cooking, and entertaining, make sure you carve out a few moments of each day to relax and clear your mind.
Some activities that can help you unwind might be:
- Going for an evening walk.
- Renting a movie that you’ve been wanting to see.
- Listening to relaxing music.
- Getting lost in a good book.
- Getting a message.
You may not be able to take a whole spa day for yourself if you have a lot going on, but even just a few minutes a day is enough to help your body and mind recharge and unwind.
We hope you have found these tips helpful and wish you happy holidays!