This time of year brings many occasions to celebrate with family and friends … and ample opportunities to overindulge (hello, gingerbread cookies and eggnog!). Here’s how you can stay healthy – and happy – throughout the holiday season.
1. Savor, don’t stuff.
Sit down at the table, enjoy a conversation with friends, and be present and mindful while you eat. Try to eat from a place of true physiological hunger, and eat only until you feel satisfied. If you don’t feel hungry anymore, it’s okay to stop eating! Take a lesson from Okinawa, a tiny island off of Japan, identified as a Blue Zones longevity hotspot where a high percentage of the population are living past the age of 100 years! The Okinawans follow the Confusion-inspired saying of “hara hachi bu,” which loosely translated means eat until your belly is only 80% full.
2. Spoil your dinner.
In general, it’s best to never skip meals, which slows down your metabolism and increases the urge to overeat. Aim to eat breakfast within 90 minutes of waking up, and try to go no longer than four hours between meals. Don’t head out to a party hungry! That will just lead you down the rabbit hole of tempting treats. Instead, take the edge of your hunger by eating a piece of fruit, like an apple or banana, with a handful of nuts before savory social gatherings.
3. Remember, pumpkin pie can be eaten all year long.
Winter isn’t the only time to enjoy a slice of pie! Consciously remind yourself that you can indulge in your favorite treats at any time of year; this will help reduce an emotional response to feeling like you need to overeat. Eating a sensible portions will also help combat feelings of deprivation; to aid in portion control, serve yourself just one small slice of pie or share with friends.
4. Let the sun shine in.
Don’t hibernate during the cold season, and get some vitamin D! Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential for growth and development, and helps keep your immune system strong. Spend 15 to 20 minutes every day in the sun, with 40% of your skin surface exposed (don’t forget your sunscreen!). And fill up on vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, egg yolk, and beef liver.
5. Limit alcohol and caffeine.
Both of these drinks cause dehydration and disrupt sleep, which can lead to poor food choices. Try sipping on herbal tea or fruit-infused sparkling water instead. Can’t resist a festive cocktail or two? Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated and slow down your consumption.
6. Make exercise a priority.
Physical activity helps reduce stress and anxiety, emotions that can become heightened during this busy season. So make an effort to stick to your regular workout schedule! Traveling? Don’t let that stop you from getting in a good sweat session: pack lightweight equipment like a resistance band, jump rope, and running shoes, and get a workout in anywhere.
7. Omega-3’s, please!
Studies suggest that the risk of cardiovascular disease increases during the colder months, possibly related to poor stress management, cooler temperatures, and an increased consumption of inflammatory foods such as alcohol and sugary desserts. Heart-healthy Omega-3’s are a powerful essential fatty acid that has been linked to reducing inflammation, enhancing cognitive function, and protecting against depression. To enjoy the health benefits of this incredibly important fat, load your plate up with foods rich in omega 3’s like wild salmon, flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, walnuts, chia, and hemp seeds.
Hope these tips will help you keep your eating habits on track throughout the holiday season. Cheers to a fit and fun winter, and a happy healthy New Year!
What are your best tips for staying healthy throughout the holiday season? Let us know, leave a comment below!
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: MARIA MEKHT
Kim Denkhaus, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with her private practice based in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In a modern-day society focused on convenience and fast-paced lifestyles, Kim is on a mission to help people reconnect with food in a sustainable, healthier way that will help them appreciate where their food comes from and empower them to use use whole foods to fuel and nourish their bodies.