Doesn’t it seem the holidays hit us fast this year? No one can believe it’s already mid-December. And there’s so much to do — taking care of “the list,” decorating the house, mailing cards, attending this school concert, that class or office party. It’s all fun — but all balled together — it can lead most of us to derail off the healthy train and even get a bit bah-humbuggish.
Here are four holiday health tips that can help you keep your sanity and your health above the crazy fray of the holidays. And, hopefully, help you kick off 2015 in pretty decent shape.
Holiday food is awesome, right?! Cheese balls, Aunt Jane’s “straight to the hips” pumpkin mousse, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, peppermint bark. Yep, ‘tis the season to eat.
And that’s okay! If you’ve got a holiday eating game plan, your December can be a tad less guilty and at the beginning of 2015 you won’t be having to go into turbo mode to work off what you put on during the holidays.
The key to a good plan is to do just that — plan ahead. If you know there’s a decadent eating event on the horizon, eat healthily in the days or hours leading up to it. Keep it light with soups and protein-packed salads — something that’ll fill the tummy in a good way and won’t make you bloated.
And with the average appetizer weighing in at around 60 calories (ouch), take some of the edge off the temptation by drinking a generous amount of water or herbal tea before you head out, plus nosh on a handful of tummy-satisfying almonds, so you’re not walking in ready to gobble down the first tray of mini eggrolls you see! You can still have fun holiday eating – just outsmart your desires with a few smart strategies – like these from popsugar.com.
The holidays are dehydrating! There’s the uptick in alcohol consumption, airplane travel, late nights and humidity-reducing heating systems. So you need to keep one step ahead of dehydrated holidays by drinking and eating your hydration.
That’s right! According to Health.com, roughly 20% of our daily water intake comes from the foods we eat. Cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, star fruit, spinach, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, baby carrots (great snacking size!), and cantaloupe all have a 90%+ water content, not to mention loads of important nutrients and antioxidants.
And you’re already drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water a day, (right? right). During the holidays, it’s smart to bump that average up. That’s easy with all the festive sparkling waters out there – like La Croix, Perrier, Perrigrino. And HEB has a fantastic line of sparkling H20 flavors — lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, berry. We like this one a lot because the carbonation level is just right. Read more about the importance of staying hydrated here.
Take a Time Out
You’re a “gotta go, gotta do” machine during the holidays. Even if you don’t think you’re stressing, the buzz of the holidays is everywhere you go – you’ve been to the grocery store during the holidays, right? Not exactly a place of Zen. Then, of course, there’s the family factor – even if you’re a lucky one and everyone gets along – you still need to take “me” time outs. Time alone allows you to recharge, so get out for a 30-minute walk and get that circulation revved. Your veins will give you a huge internal hug. And that just feels so good! Even if it’s volunteering to do a grocery store run – eek out some sanity-saving alone time for yourself.
Another easy stress-reliever is to concentrate on your breath. Although breathing is generally an autonomic function, we can consciously or subconsciously affect it. When we are super busy or stressed, our breathing can become shallow and rapid — and you don’t even know it. Filling up your tank with concentrated, deep breaths is an instant vacation from any stress you’re experiencing.
So remember to breathe.
Here’s Dr. Andrew Weil demonstrating the relaxing 4-7-8 breath
Another way to ward off holiday-related stress is with some gentle yoga moves. We found these moves to be just the ticket to decompressing from crazy days and relatives and get your mind and body all nestled down for a long winter’s nap.
Get Up & Move
Everybody overindulges at some point during the holidays. And that’s okay! You’re celebrating a long year – and it’s actually good for you to get off the hamster wheel of life every now and then. Just be cognizant of it and don’t beat yourself up. So after a day of sitting around watching the games with grandpa or saying, “Yes, please” to that second piece of pie, get out the next day and take a longer walk, hit the gym or just run around with the kids in the backyard. Anything that gets the blood pumping and revs the circulatory system makes you feel better instantly.
Good luck this holiday season! Check the Vein Blog next week for “Healthy, Hydrating Christmas Cocktails!”