Even the most ardent nutrition advocate is susceptible to treat-induced slip-ups and skipped workout sessions during the holiday season. From sugary beverages and baked goods, to high-fat savory dishes, there’s a bevy of food-related obstacles to avoid. Plus, with all that eating, who has the time and willpower to stay active?
You do! With firm goals, knowledge, and cool technology, you can change your behaviors to move toward improved health and well-being. In the spirit of change and personal responsibility, here are five nutrition and health tips for the holidays.
- Change the Recipes, Not the Items
Many traditional holiday favorites are fairly healthy when prepared certain ways, yet quite unhealthy when other recipes are applied. Cranberry and sweet potato dishes are among the items that tend to have wide-ranging nutritional value, depending on the cook’s plan of action.
In the same vein, seasonally popular holiday meats such as ham, turkey, and goose serve as robust sources of protein. However, for these meats, strive to find recipes that minimize additional sugar, fat, and salt.
- Savor Moderation
At this point, most people seem to understand that almost any food item is better for you in moderation than in vast supply—especially foods that lack nutritional benefits. However, getting people to discipline themselves to eat moderate amounts of food during the holidays is easier said than done.
Self-control during the holidays is made easier when we embrace the pleasure of smaller quantities and take great care to think about and experience the flavors intertwined in each bite. When you eat less and reduce bloating, you free yourself up to be more active during the holidays too. It’s a win-win!
- Exercise in Spirited Spurts
The holiday season can be a tricky time to get in those regularly scheduled workouts. Between travel, family outings, parties, and general hustle and bustle, getting to the gym can be difficult.
It works out well that shorter, significantly strenuous exercise sessions arguably are the best kind for your health and well-being. Obviously 20-minute workout sessions are easier to fit into the day planner, or even spur of the moment. More importantly, studies show that high-intensity bursts of fitness help burn fat faster and improve fitness.
- Focus on Meals instead of Snacks
One of the most common and easily taken for granted nutrition traps is snacks. As people mill around living rooms and holiday parties, chatting, and laughing with friends or relatives, it’s all too easy to down a platter’s worth of cocktail wieners, seasonal cookies, and the like—perhaps without even realizing it.
If you can resolve yourself to become satiated during healthy, tasty square meals during the holidays, hopefully you’ll be less likely to aimlessly stuff yourself during the snacking hours.
- Use Technology to Your Advantage
The popularity of fitness and nutrition technology has skyrocketed as of late. While the sheer quantity of health-related apps and gadgets boggles the mind, zeroing in on one tool that fits your unique needs can be a great help.
The various fitness apps for mobile devices cater to a wide array of people. Some focus on motivating the user, while others are all about monitoring data such as daily steps, calories burned, heart rate, and much more. Goal-setting is another key function of many apps.
To improve nutritious and ramp up healthy eating, cooking gadgets often motivate people to try healthier options than they’re used to. If you have an immersion blender, oil mister, or handheld chopper, what’s standing in your way?
The holidays don’t have to be defined by unhealthy overeating and lack of exercise. With the right goals, plan of action, and even technology, you can change your behaviors and move toward a state of improved health.
Photo: Markus Spiske