The holidays are a time for many wonderful things: time with friends and family, roaring fires and twinkling lights, and celebrations galore. Unfortunately, one thing the holidays are not is a time associated with healthy habits – especially when it comes to food and exercise. With everything going on, trips to the gym fall down on the priority list. And who wants a salad when there’s wine and cookies everywhere you look? But celebrating in December doesn’t have to mean guilt in January. That’s why we’ve rounded up a set of stay-healthy holiday tips that take little effort but net big results:
- Drink water before a party. Before that office event or family gathering, drink a big glass of water (two, if you can!). Many of us think we’re hungry when in fact what we’re feeling is thirst, and we overeat as a result. Keep dehydration at bay by consuming water before you’re tempted by food. The more hydrated you are, the better you’ll be able to make conscious choices over what you eat. Helpful when you’re inundated by trays of hors d’oeuvres.
- Eat before a party. Don’t starve yourself before a big party where you know there’ll be lots of rich food. People have a tendency to eat very little before an event thinking they will “save” the calories for later. But this tactic almost always backfires. The hungrier you are when the food arrives, the more likely you are to ravenously overeat. Instead, make sure you eat fiber and protein rich foods throughout the day so your hunger stays in check.
- Drink water during a party. I’m not going to tell you to skip the wine (what fun is that?). What I am going to tell you to do is alternate glasses of wine with glasses of water. Not only will it slow your alcohol consumption – alcohol triggers overeating – but it will also fill your stomach so you’ll feel fuller on fewer calories.
- Eat the good stuff – but not too much. Don’t try to deny yourself at an event filled with delicious food. Instead, allow yourself a small taste of everything you want. Research has shown that the first bite of something is the most enjoyable. That’s because anticipation plays a huge part in our cravings for food. So instead of eating that entire piece of chocolate cake, have a bite or two. Chances are, you’ll enjoy it just as much.
- Play outside. Too snowy to get to the gym? Turn your backyard into your own personal fitness arena. There are lots of fun things you can do (with your kids!) to stay active. Did you know that building a snow man burns 349 calories an hour? Sledding burns 407 – that’s almost as much as running! Chances are, when you’re out there having fun, you’re not even thinking about how much exercise you’re getting.
- Dance! There will be plenty of opportunities this season. Dancing is a great calorie buster (450 an hour) and overall toner (getting low works those quads!). Plus, if you work out at the party, you don’t need to work out before the party.
- Boost your mood. Even if you don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, chances are the shorter days are bringing you down. And negative moods lead to lethargy and emotional eating. Take advantage of sunny days and go for a walk to maximize Vitamin D consumption. Can’t get outdoors? Buy an electronic blue light – it mimics the sun’s mood-boosting effects. Another quick (and even easier) mood brightener? Smile. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, the act itself has been shown to actually make people happier.