5 Ways to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to spend time with loved ones, enjoy great food and create new memories. While it may seem difficult, keeping healthy habits in mind during the holiday season can make a big difference in one’s overall health and in your enjoyment of the holiday season.

Moderation is Key

It is easy to consume more calories than usual during the holidays with all the feasts and celebrations we attend. But there is no need to swear off your favorite holiday foods. Remember that any food is okay in moderation. You just need a plan to get you through those parties.

Before filling your plate, take a walk around the food table to see your choices. This can help reduce the amount of food you put on your plate. Also, fill up on vegetables and fruits before going for calorie-dense main courses and desserts. Even something as small as drinking a glass of water before sitting down to eat can make a difference in your appetite.

Keep Up With Exercise

The holiday season is usually a busy time. Keeping up with an exercise routine might be the last thing on your mind. So, change it up. Make it holiday friendly. Move in different ways.

Instead of having your groceries delivered, grab a cart, walk around the store and do your own shopping. Park your car further away from entrances to get in a few extra steps. Take the stairs.  Do extra cleaning around the house. And, dance the night away at holiday parties. Enjoy the music and extra time moving.

Use Healthy Alternatives When Cooking

There are several healthy changes that can be made to your favorite recipes that no one will notice.

  • Use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil in baked goods. One cup of oil is equal to one cup of applesauce.
  • Replace sour cream with non-fat plain Greek yogurt in your favorite holiday dips.
  • Be mindful of the amount of butter you use. Butter is very high in calories. A single tablespoon of butter has around 100 calories. Instead, try a low-calorie spray instead.

Loading up on healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and lean meats can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Manage Stress

The holidays can bring out a lot of emotions for people. For some, the stress of the holiday season increases their blood pressure. High blood pressure increases our risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

So, focus on managing your stress. Exercising, deep breathing, meditating and talking to a close friend or family member are all things that can help relieve stress. If it gets to be too much, it’s okay to seek professional support for help with managing feelings of stress.

Protect Your Heart Health

Overindulging in salty foods and alcohol can lead to holiday heart syndrome. While overindulging during any time of the year can cause adverse effects, it most commonly occurs during the season when we tend to indulge the most. Consuming too much alcohol and salt can cause the heart to beat irregularly, commonly known as atrial fibrillation (AFib). Symptoms of AFib include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, chest pain and fatigue.

In addition, heart attacks are more common during the holiday season. Make sure you know the signs of a heart attack. Chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and upper body discomfort can all be signs of a heart attack. If someone is suspected of having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.