Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Writer: Michelle Manganiello

The holiday season is quickly arriving, which means weeks of family reunions, jolly music, perhaps new gifts, and—of course— wonderful food. This decadent food, the stuffing, the turkey dinner, the buttery rolls, the juicy ham and the delicious pies, may seem to be half the reason we enjoy the holidays. We feel satisfied as we both fill ourselves with food and with the love of our family and friends. Bonding and creating lasting memories over food is no problem, but there are ways to keep your health the main priority during this holiday season.

Eat mindfully to ensure you are not eating too fast and to truly savor the mouth-watering flavors entering your body. To do this, you must not only eat carefully but also minimize portion sizes. When you decrease your portion sizes, it will be easier to recognize when you’re full and to avoid that dish of seconds and thirds.

Avoid mystifying particular foods eaten solely around the holiday season. During Thanksgiving, many people say, “I only have pecan pie during Thanksgiving, so I better eat a lot now!” To claim this statement, you are tricking yourself into thinking that these foods are rare to eat and a “once-a-year” opportunity when in reality you can make them anytime. Even though these foods are traditionally eaten during this jovial time, make yourself think about them in a yearly fashion. Remember these foods exist after the holiday ends and you don’t have to have your fill at this very moment.

Holiday seasons become hectic quickly. You find yourself having long to-do lists of things to buy and endless social events to attend. In this time in which you feel like you have no time to breathe, don’t forget about exercising your body on a regular basis. If you can’t fit in those 30 minute time intervals every day for a run, walk or swim, split the time interval up three ways. Go walking for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon and 10 minutes in the evening. Even better, you can suggest a group exercise event with your friends and family who are all in town. Get your heart moving, instead of slowing it down.

Gloria Broughan, a graduate from the University of Georgia and now a part-time dietitian, gives valuable advice: “Set realistic goals. Maybe for some, that means being super on top of following healthy habits like they do through the rest of the year and making the extra effort to exercise. Maybe for some that means having a few treats here and there. And maybe for others that means letting yourself fully enjoy the holidays and being okay with gaining a few pounds.”

Ultimately, just start the holiday season with a healthy mindset to be present for what’s important to you. But during these upcoming weeks of excitement and family fun, don’t forget to give your body the health it needs and wants. 

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