For a Happy, Healthy Holiday
Today is Christmas, and the world will slow down, just for a little while, so that people can relax, eat, visit, and celebrate. Of course, once the weekend is over, it will be back to the grind for a lot of us. How can we make the most of our time off, without overdoing any of those holiday indulgences that often lead to guilt and discomfort down the road?
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
Food is a major part of any holiday celebration, as it should be. But it's no secret that so much of the holiday food we eat is laden with fat, sugar and salt. There's no reason not to treat yourself a little - it's a celebration after all! But there's also no reason to eat in a way that will make you uncomfortable or upset your regular diet. This is especially important if you have an underlying condition, or your body is unaccustomed to digesting heavier foods. Consider the holiday table. Meat is no doubt the focal point of the meal. Enjoy a healthy portion if you want to, but be sure it doesn't replace the plant-based foods. Rather than taking seconds of the meat, try more of a vegetable or salad. If you are lucky enough to put the meal together, provide plenty of options for the health-conscious reveler. Remember the basics:
- Whole-grains in the form of bread, pasta and rice
- Fresh or lightly steamed vegetables (red, green, and orange varieties are attractive and nutrient rich)
- Fresh fruits incorporated into appetizers and desserts (pomegranates, apples, oranges, and grapes make an attractive holiday plate)
- Low-fat dairy items are versatile and flavorful
- Lean meats (ideally chicken, turkey, or even fish) can compliment a varied and healthy meal
- Almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, small bits of dark chocolate, and veggie chips make excellent snacks without being 'empty' calories
When it comes to drinking, the important things are to stay hydrated and not drink too much alcohol. If you are drinking alcohol, sip slowly over the course of a few hours rather than pounding all the wine before dinner, and alternate your sips between your beverage and plain water. Since it's a holiday, go for the higher quality wines, beers and liquors. They taste better, and tend to be easier on your body. For non-alcoholic beverages, there are several seasonally flavored teas to choose from - orange spice, mint, and ginger just to name a few. Natural juices are easily mixed with sparkling water for a fresh and healthy drink. Relaxing is a must on Christmas, but moving is a part of celebrating! Dance with your friends to your favorite holiday music, take a stroll around the block to see all the neighborhood decorations, or set up sport-type games, if space and weather allow. No need to wear yourself out, but such gentle exercise will actually help you to relax and sleep more efficiently.
Stay Warm, Chill Out
The holidays are a cold time of year for a lot of people. Because of this, it is so important to make sure that appropriate clothing is available. Coats, boots, gloves, mittens, hats and scarfs can be obtained inexpensively, or even made as gifts! If your family enjoys winter sports, observe all the rules of safety regarding equipment, vehicles, and factors such as ice thickness and hill size. Watch out for these signs of frostbite on anyone spending time outdoors (taken from the University of Maryland Medical Center):
- Pain or prickling progressing to numbness
- Pale, hard, and cold skin with waxy appearance
- Flushing from blood rushing to area after it's rewarmed
- Burning sensation and swelling from collected fluid that may last for weeks
- Black scab-like crust, which may develop several weeks after exposure
Finally, the best way to ensure that your holiday will promote calm is to minimize stress. This time of year can be overwhelming, but keeping good track of your schedule, making time for the things you see as most important, and not over-committing will all help to keep stress under control. Remember: holidays and days off are supposed to enjoyable. If you find yourself looking forward to the end of it, you may want to consider some scaling back. Wishing you a very Happy Holiday Season, from all of us here at HelloLife!