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Healthy habits during the holidays

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

We are so excited for the holiday season – a busy time packed with family commitments, festive meals with loved ones and fun outings. However, we realize that the hustle and bustle of the season may make it hard to maintain fitness and nutrition goals, but this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

First and foremost, let’s be real – Christmas is one day. You can choose to prioritize your health during the holiday season as opposed to feeling sluggish all month and then placing so much pressure to start fresh on New Years Day. Here are our top tips to make sure you maintain your healthy habits during the upcoming weeks.

Eat healthy before going out for dinner

You have a dinner coming up, so you stop eating ahead of time in anticipation. I’m sure many of us have done this, but in most of these scenarios we end up binge eating everything and anything we find at this dinner event! Instead, ensure that you have a small, healthy meal before heading out. This will stop the cravings before they start, and you will be more likely to consume healthier portions. During the meal, make sure you incorporate protein, healthy fats and vegetables to keep you full for longer.

Continue to prioritize exercise

Life is busy and the holiday season is the same busy life plus 10 more things to do, whether it is a work party or wrapping gifts for your loved ones. However, don’t let this deter you from missing your workouts. Schedule your exercise and stick to this plan. When we have an event in our planner (like a family dinner), we would never miss it, but unfortunately, it’s not true vice-versa. During busy times, we often skip healthy habits like staying active. But let’s make it part of the schedule and show up for our health. Try and squeeze in a 30-minute session in the morning, then enjoy the rest of the day and be festive! Download the calendar and plan out your workouts!

One meal won’t make or break your healthy habits

We’ve all seen the infographics – one salad will not make you ‘healthy’ just as having gingerbread cookies for breakfast on Christmas day won’t make you ‘unhealthy’. This holiday season, keep each meal in perspective. Enjoy your mom’s Christmas cake – go back for seconds if you would like, this will not make or break your diet. However, overindulging for a straight month and eating cake and cookies every day will. Our tip is to eat healthy most of the time, enjoy your favourite holiday treats and lead a balanced lifestyle. Remember, every meal is an opportunity for you to get back on track.

Bring a healthy dish to get-togethers

You may be attending a get-together with friends or a work potluck where everyone brings something delicious to share. You’ll find that most guests will bring a savoury main dish or a rich dessert. We suggest you bring something healthy to the table – this may be a vegetable tray or a fruit platter, which will also encourage other guests to enjoy some healthy snacks.

Pack healthy travel treats

With the holiday season comes travel which may include flying home from Europe (hello, that’s me) or driving a few hours to be with family. In either case, you should consider packing healthy treats for the road to curb any cravings and stop at the only fast-food chain open. Plan to have snacks on hand which are easy for travel – this could be trail mix, granola bars, an apple or a banana.

Drink your H2O

It’s the season for spiked eggnog and hot chocolate loaded with all the whipped cream and sugary toppings. Don’t get me wrong, I will be having one or two of the above-mentioned drinks during the holidays – but I will be focusing on staying hydrated with good old H2O. Many of the festive drinks lack nutritional value and instead are full of fattening calories. It is essential that your drink enough water during the holidays. When you stay hydrated, your body will work better at a range of tasks including thinking and burning fat.

Get enough sleep

Getting adequate sleep has many health benefits and it’s important to get quality sleep during such a busy time so try and stick to your bedtime schedule as much as possible. According to studies, people who sleep at least eight hours per night were nearly three times less likely to catch a cold compared to those who slept less than seven hours. And who wants to get sick!? Sleep also impacts weight – when you wake up tired after a late night you are more likely to binge on sugary drinks, overeat and you may also be too tired to exercise. This can be linked to the fact that sleep deprivation increases ghrelin level and lowers leptin levels in the blood – a signal of a limited energy supply to the brain. As a result, a message is sent to the gastrointestinal tract, the message of hunger, and as a result the person starts to eat (when there is no need). Our top tip is to ensure you are getting the rest you need as the lack of it may cause your brain to make bad decision.

The holidays are a busy time, but we encourage you to make a commitment to yourself to feel good this season. Take control of your decisions and stick to your goals while enjoying quality time with family and friends as your savour deliciously festive meals.

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