Staying healthy and caring for your body is a year-long endeavor. However, some parts of the year make maintaining healthy habits much more challenging. As the year draws to a close and the holiday season approaches, many health-conscious individuals find it harder and harder to keep on track.
Not only are holiday foods tempting, but social expectations also pose unique challenges for during this time of year. We all have family members who might say "oh, have a cookie, it's the holidays!" or "why are you even bothering to diet in December?". Facing these attitudes is frustrating and sometimes downright embarrassing.
Luckily, there are ways to manage temptations, deal with naysayers, and protect your health goals even through wintertime celebrations. Stay on track and feeling good with these three healthy holiday tips:
Celebrate the Holiday, Not the Season
While stores may put out holiday decorations as early as October, the holiday itself only occupies a handful of days. Don't fall into the trap of eating holiday foods from November through January. Instead, let yourself indulge on the specific occasion alone. Astonishingly, 90% of U.S. households indulge in sweet treats like ice cream regularly. Remember that a treat should be a treat, and not a habit, even during this season. When temptation knocks, remind yourself how good your body feels when you eat well and exercise. If anyone asks why you aren't prematurely indulging in eggnog or mashed potatoes, simply tell them you're saving room for the actual holiday.
Skip the Lame Party
Part of the difficulty of holiday health comes from the huge number of events you're expected to attend. Between gatherings with friends, immediate family, extended family, co-workers, and in-laws, one rarely gets time to sleep, let alone eat well!
Even though holiday parties are fun, skipping one or two likely won't ruin the season. Protect your time and health by learning which events to politely decline. For example, a recent survey from OfficeTeam found that only 36% of professionals enjoy company holiday parties; 35% actually gave them a negative "thumbs-down" response. If you know an event won't be a great time, skip it! You'll be able to avoid the temptation of unhealthy food and drink, and you'll be able to spend that time doing something more enjoyable. If you do attend the party, try to snack before the event with healthy nuts or veggies, so you don't overeat junk food.
Treat Yourself in Other Ways
During the holidays, it's normal to want to unwind and let loose. You want to celebrate another successful year, and show your favorite people how much you appreciate them. Instead of celebrating with unhealthy foods or pastimes, try finding more constructive ways to enjoy the season. The typical American household spends $1,800 on clothing every year, so why not use some of that budget for your healthy wish list by asking for workout clothes? Health-conscious gifts make staying in shape feel more like a fun lifestyle and less like a chore.
Healthy choices can extend to pastimes as well. Instead of having the family over for dinner, spend an evening ice skating or walking the neighborhood to view decorations together. When it comes to gifting, skip sending cookies and try sharing gift cards or homemade crafts. Though you may be used to celebrating with calories, these healthier alternatives can make your holiday even more memorable!
The holidays are fun, but they don't last. Remember to balance short-term enjoyment with long-term health benefits. Use the tips above to protect your time, prioritize your health, and to still enjoy the season. Happy holidays!
Written by LouAnn Moss for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.