Around the world, people are celebrating the holidays by cooking family recipes, visiting special places, watching classic movies, and cherishing old traditions. For health-conscious people, the season can be challenging with dozens of frosted cookies, large formal meals, and hours of sitting. Small changes to your traditional festivities, however, can help keep your wellness goals on track.
Here are a few quick tips for better eating, healing, and traveling during the holidays:
Limiting fats, sugars, and salts this time of year may be tricky. We suggest bringing nutritious vegetables and fruits to holiday parties and events. That will help ensure you have some healthy options on the table. Jazz vegetables up by roasting with exotic herbs, or create a beautiful fruit tray to ensure an alternative to empty-calorie sweets. You can also make classic dishes healthier by using skim milk in place of whole milk, swapping egg whites for whole eggs, and substituting applesauce for oils in Christmas cookies and other baked goods.
Physical activity is an essential aspect of maintaining good health. Rather than sitting and watching a movie after a big meal, ask a family member or friend to enjoy a walk outside with you. You could also delight your host by offering to help clean dishes or take out the trash. Both of which could help you burn a few calories. If you have an energetic crowd, get a game of touch football going or another form of physical activity to get your metabolism going. Stress reduction is also important for wellness.
If family fights are brewing or you experience travel delays, try deep breathing exercises. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for 5 to 10 seconds, and release very slowly through your mouth. Things might seem hectic, but try to remember the holidays are actually an escape from work and a break from mundane routines. Optimize this unique time for relaxing and reflecting on the positive aspects of your life.
Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for travel, which means more people on the roads and more delays at airports. To relieve stress, bring mobile games, puzzles, or coloring books with pattern-filled pages. Studies show art, color, and geometric shapes can help the human brain temporarily disconnect from our anxiety and stress. You may also enjoy feel-good endorphins by watching your favorite holiday movies when sitting on the plane or during a long car ride. Watching movies such as Elf or It’s a Wonderful Life are on your to-do list. You might as well enjoy them while you are stuck in a seat. The entertainment will help make the time fly and help keep you in the holiday spirit during travels.
Additionally, when traveling and celebrating during the holidays, an increased consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol could deplete your energy; in turn, be sure to increase your water intake to counter the dehydrating effects of certain beverages. We also suggest you enjoy tempting alternatives. Sparkling water with a splash of sweet cranberry juice, a glass of almond-milk nog seasoned with nutmeg, or a steamy cup of peppermint tea to celebrate the season. With just a few twists, you will be enjoying a wonderful and healthful holiday season.