How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Update: This story was originally published on December 22, 2015. It has been updated by Gabrielle Savoie.
It's easy to let all our healthy habits fall to the wayside come holiday season. The many nights of events and festivities wreak havoc on our sleep, the seasonal treats are too yummy to skip, and that extra glass of champagne too tempting to resist. The cold weather that's got us craving hearty high-calorie meals isn't helping our waistline either. In short, 'tis the season to be merry and eat far more than is necessary—and nothing should stop us.
By the same token, we don't want all our good habits to go out the window. If you're concerned about losing control of your healthy lifestyle, fear not. We've got healthy holiday living down to a science. You worry about being merry, and we'll keep you feeling good all festive season long. Adopt these tips on staying healthy (and joyful) this holiday season—and never feel guilty about a cup of eggnog again.
Use Moderation, Not Restriction
Don't stress about eliminating food groups or alcohol. Instead of banning all sugar or holiday indulgences, limit your intake. Without deprivation, binges are less likely. A bite or two of Bûche de Nöel won't add inches to your waistline. Neither will a mug or two of eggnog.
Try to Stagger Your Indulgences
If possible, try to keep your party schedule to every other night. If you're too much of a social butterfly to stagger your dance card, try to imbibe every other evening. That will keep your hangovers to a minimum and will prevent you from feeling totally dysfunctional.
Never Attend a Party on an Empty Stomach
While the holiday season is bloated with extra opportunities to consume calorific goods, it's best to stick to a regular meal schedule. You don't want to skip breakfast and lunch because you know you're going to a party that evening with heavy hors d'oeuvres. Those little canapés and pigs in a blanket come at a high caloric cost. Make sure to fill up on protein-packed snacks before you head out on the town, especially if you've had a light eating day.
Only Indulge in What You Really Love
You don't need to say yes to every passing hors d'oeuvre or beckoning buffet table. In fact, if you stick to only enjoying what you love, you'll consume far fewer calories than if you go into a party thinking that you will just "taste" everything that looks appetizing at the time. Those tastes could cost you thousands of unnecessary calories.
When Speaking, Put Your Fork Down
At a dinner party, it can be difficult to balance your meal consumption with a meaningful dinner conversation. In order to make sure you're really listening to your dinner companion and not eating mindlessly, put your fork down when talking to another guest. You'll likely leave the dinner feeling satiated, but not overly full, and inspired by a conversation with substance.
There is no excuse for not hydrating this season. Staying hydrated not only helps you prevent holiday party hangovers, it also keeps mind fog at bay. You need your brain cells firing on all cylinders to get through your end-of-year to-do list, family time, and endless social engagements.
Keep Track of What You're Consuming
Whether you use a notebook, your cell phone, or just a mental note, make sure to keep track of what you're consuming. Holiday cocktails and food indulgences have a way of causing your calorie and, more specifically, sugar intake to increase dramatically. It can also be surprisingly easy to forget what goes in your body when you're jumping around from party to party. We think a great holiday reflection is keeping a consumption diary. Note everything that you indulge in, from coffee to television, and think about how you can reduce your consumption in 2017.
Go for a Walk, Not for a Coffee
It's great to catch up with old friends when you're home for the holidays. Instead of meeting for your typical sedentary coffee date, make a walking date. Doing something active with a friend is a great way to get your blood moving and exchange stories of the past year. Instead of sipping caffeinated drinks that you probably don't need, you can walk off some of those party treats and feel fresh and restored.