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How to Have a Healthier Holiday Season

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How is everybody doing at the midway point of a busy and festive month? We had shared a previous article about how to plan for a healthy Thanksgiving meal, but of course, Thanksgiving is only the kickoff point for over another month of events and meals. This time of year is difficult for everyone to stay on top of a healthy eating routine. When we are more busy than usual, it is easier to stress-eat, skip meals, binge eat, over-portion, or see a spike in our calories from increased alcohol consumption. For those of you who are diabetic, have high blood cholesterol levels, or have any health condition where weight and diet play a crucial role in your treatment plan, it is especially important to create a strategy to enjoy yourself with minimal compromising to your health.

1.) Balance. Everything in moderation is a rule that holds true over the holidays. If you want to have cheat meals, do so, and enjoy them! Just don’t have a cheat month. December will always be busy and full of events, but this doesn’t mean that you can just write it off and let yourself go for the month and start a healthy routine again in January. The further and longer you let your health routine go, the harder it will be to get back. Make the new year and your year-round health management easier by keeping it as consistent as possible in December. Remember to drink a lot of water, and always have a glass of water before every meal to help you avoid from overeating.

2.) Plan your treats within limits. Think about which area you most like to splurge on, and plan around this. For example, if food is your weakness, let yourself eat more of what you like during the holidays, but make yourself a deal that you will only do this if you are on top of other health areas. If you decide every weekend will be cheat meals, then you can add two extra workouts a week to make your treat meals a reward. If you can handle eating healthy but hate exercise, you can plan to decrease your exercise to 15 minute walks every day and keep your meals clean and heavily composed of vegetables, fruits and lean protein. Or talk to your friends and family and plan an active event on any day there is a big meal (ice skating before New Year’s Eve dinner or a walk to look at the neighborhood’s Christmas lights after Christmas dinner).

3.) Communicate and partner up. Your health always has a higher success rate if you do it with others. Involve your partner, family and friends as well as medical professionals so that you have encouragement and accountability. Share your health plans and treats for the holidays so that your loved ones can support and celebrate with you. If you will be traveling and going to dinner parties, be open with your hosts or guests that you will be bringing/providing healthier options for yourself and others. It isn’t impolite to request and plan ahead for your health needs where possible.

Remember that the more specific you get, the better. Making the decision that you are going to exercise more to make up for cheat meals is a vague idea. Planning to eat what you want for breakfast and dinner every Saturday and Sunday with a healthy lunch while alternating one hour of yoga or swimming from Monday to Friday at 7-8 AM is specific and has a higher chance of success. As always, talk to your doctor if you have any questions about how to best manage your health conditions, medications, diet and lifestyle.

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