It’s tempting to overindulge during the holidays, but hold your ground!
By Rachel Evans
The holiday season should be a relaxing time with family and friends.
We often find ourselves stressing over balancing eating healthy with indulging in specialty foods, being around our friends and family yet avoiding germs, and the financial strain that often comes with it all. Stay healthy this holiday season by planning ahead.
During the holidays, we tend to be inside and around larger groups of people. This increases the chances for the spread of germs. The seasonal flu is one illness you certainly do not want to meet during the holidays or ever if possible.
Your best defense from the flu is to get a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older gets a flu vaccine. Talk with your doctor today about getting vaccinated.
Another good defense at keeping germs at bay is to wash your hands frequently. Our hands come into contact with many things during the course of a day, whether they are the doors at a department store or mall or shaking the hand of a person that you just met at a family party.
Make sure to wash your hands when returning home and before eating. Hand sanitizer is a good option for when you do not have access to a sink to wash your hands.
There are many specialty foods that we save for the holidays. Pat Salzer, a registered dietitian and workplace wellness consultant for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, suggests that we enjoy the special foods that are offered this time of year.
“Focus on the portion and be aware of what you are eating. Besides watching your portion size, increase your physical activity and cut back on other high-calorie foods,” she said.
Salzer offers the following tips for staying healthy:
— Have a small healthy snack before you go to a party, such as a glass of low-fat milk, an apple, or a handful of raisins and nuts. If you are ravenous when you get to the event, your willpower goes out the window.
— At parties, look over choices on the buffet table first, and then decide what you really want. Move away from the table, walk around and mingle. If you park next to the food, you are more likely to overeat. Conversation is calorie-free.
— Bring a healthy dish to a party for everyone to enjoy, such as vegetables and low-fat dip, cut-up fruit, or black bean dip with baked tortilla chips. Check out one of the many healthy recipe magazines available in grocery stores. for more ideas.
Get off that couch!
To keep your body in check after eating heavier foods, take a walk with your friends, family, or pets. If it is snowy or icy, wear flat shoes to avoid slipping and falling.
All adults should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five days a week. If 30 minutes a day sounds overwhelming this time of the year, Salzer said there are a lot of things you can do to get that exercise in, including shopping, baking, parties, and sending out holiday cards.
“Try to de-stress by taking a 10-minute walk three times a day,” she said.
During the holidays, many people feel a strain on the wallet. There often is an increase in expenses, whether it involves gifts for the family or food for holiday meals. Planning ahead can help lessen financial stress.
Do not buy something if you can’t afford it. Budgeting is key. If you like to buy a little something for your children or grandkids, make sure to stick to not spending over your budget, and do not charge items to a credit card. It can be easy to fall into the spell of buying items with all of the holiday sales. Many people now also shop online. This can be just as dangerous to your wallet as purchasing is the click of a button.
To keep it healthy, “Give healthy gifts or include them on your wish list: subscription to a healthy cooking or fitness magazine, weights, a yoga mat and yoga tape or work-out clothes, a membership to a fitness center, a wok or healthy indoor cooking grill,” Salzer said.
Also remember that not all great gifts are expensive. If you are creative, you can go that route and make something special. If you are not crafty, another idea is to offer to cook a meal for someone.