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Tips to Not Just Survive, But Thrive This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season; the most wonderful time of the year; party like it’s 1999. Whichever catch phrase comes to mind as the end of the year approaches, there’s no denying that the holidays are upon us. And all that holiday cheer typically brings with it indulgences and plenty of “cheers” to go around, as you clink glasses with loved ones while drinking eggnog, mulled wine or ice cold beer.

During these holiday celebrations and festivities, or perhaps during the solitude that comes between them, the LHSFNA encourages you to consider what foods, drinks, activities and people nourish your soul. It can be a challenge to keep your physical and mental health and well-being in tip-top shape at any time of year, but it’s especially challenging during the holidays. And if you’re like many of us, your goal is simply to enjoy the celebrations this time of year brings and still be able to button your pants with your mental health intact when the calendar turns to January.

Achieving this goal can be a challenge, but it becomes much more manageable when you take the time to think about it in advance. It’s more difficult to succeed if you wait until your third holiday party of the year, when you’re faced with the decision to eat your second piece of pie or fourth cookie (the answer is likely no, step away from the dessert table).

Follow these tips to put your health and well-being at the forefront this holiday season, and the enjoyment will fall into place:

  • Rest up. Aim to consistently get seven hours of sleep every night this month. A lack of sleep may cause women to feel less full after eating; it may cause men to have an increased appetite.
  • Get moving. Knowing that this time of year may lead to more indulging than normal, go for a walk, jog or engage in another type of physical activity you enjoy in an effort to maintain your energy level and your weight.
  • Eat and snack smartly. Now is not the time to skip meals and give intermittent fasting a try. Eat nutritious and filling foods throughout the day that are comprised of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Consider counting the number of servings of fruits and vegetables you’re consuming each day.
  • Socialize smartly. Rather than blindly accepting every invitation that comes your way, pause and reflect on how the choices you’re making either contribute to or take away from your quality of life. Shift the focus away from the food and drink you’re consuming and towards the company you’re with to better appreciate the festive occasion without overindulging.
  • While at holiday parties:
    • Downsize your plate. Choose to nibble from a snack-size plate instead of a full-size dinner plate. You’ll think twice before making another trip back to the buffet and your mind will think you’re eating more.
    • Choose wisely. You’re likely to eat most of the foods you put on your first plate – so make those healthy. Consider fresh vegetables and hummus instead of meat and cheese or a high-calorie dip with crackers.
    • Pour wisely. Know what a serving size of alcohol is and keep track of how much you drink throughout the party. Alternate each alcoholic beverage with water or seltzer. Know your limits and have a plan in mind for how to get home safely.
    • Savor. Aim to enjoy and truly taste each food and drink you consume. Go for smaller bites and sips instead of huge bites and gulps.

[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Senior Benefit & Wellness Specialist.]

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