Don’t let this festive, busy time of year derail your personal health. Today, our contributor, Kara Stout, shares 10 tips to help make your holidays both happy and healthy!
While it’s pretty safe to say that we all love the holidays, all of the decadent desserts, drinks, parties and travel plans that go along with it can take their toll on your health. It can affect our immune systems and increase our chances of getting sick. Who wants to be sick during the holidays? No one. Not to mention the decreased energy, poor digestion and dreaded holiday weight gain. I recently read that, on average, people gain five to eight pounds during the holiday season. But don’t worry! I’ve got you covered on how to avoid these unfavorable consequences while still enjoying the holidays! Read on for 10 ways to stay healthy this season.
- Try to Maintain a Healthy Morning Routine: Start your day with warm water and lemon and always eat a healthy breakfast. Never skip! Choose a breakfast full of fiber and protein, like chia seed pudding, eggs with veggies or a nutrient-packed smoothie.
- Drink Apple Cider Vinegar: This highly beneficial health food stabilizes your blood sugar, helps control your appetite, burns fat, boosts your immune system and aids in digestion. I typically drink 1 tablespoon mixed with a full glass of water. If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure how you’ll like the taste, use 1 to 2 teaspoons. You can also add it to your warm lemon water!
- Eat Your Green Veggies: Greens are one of the top foods missing in most people’s diets. They are a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and chlorophyll, which means we must try and get them in daily—even if we have to sneak them in! Making green smoothies is one of the best ways to do this. Green veggies include kale, spinach, arugula, avocado, celery, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli and green beans to name a few.
- Limit Alcohol: I know, I know. Some people need alcohol to get through family functions or the stress of the holidays. But, let’s try to manage our stress a different way and really try to reduce it this year. Now, I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a glass of wine, Champagne or your favorite holiday cocktail. I plan to! But, just be mindful to not drink too much, and opt for red wines and drinks without a ton of sugar.
- Get Moving: Make exercising a priority. I know with a busy schedule, it can be difficult making that barre or spin class. Schedule it in your calendar just as you would an important business meeting. You wouldn’t miss it. You can also incorporate fun, seasonal activities like ice skating or walking through a neighborhood full of Christmas lights, or simply channel your inner ballerina at barre class envisioning you’re in the Nutcracker. A stretch, I know, but why not?
- Utilize Healthy Cooking Swaps: Instead of refined white sugar, opt for natural, gentler sweeteners like coconut sugar, raw honey, 100-percent pure maple syrup or Stevia. Use coconut flour or almond flour instead of white flour. Use coconut or almond milk instead of dairy. Opt for sea salt instead of regular table salt. Use coconut oil or real, grass-fed butter instead of margarine.
- Take Your Vitamins: A good quality multivitamin, fish oil, probiotic and vitamin D3 is always a good idea. Most people are not getting enough nutrients from the foods they eat, so I suggest looking into high-quality vitamins to take daily. This should help with your energy and digestion and keep your immune system healthy.
- Invest in Elderberry: I swear by this. I tell clients and friends, whenever they are sick, to run and buy this. All of the above tips should help keep your immune system strong, but sometimes you still get sick. If you do, Elderberry will be your best friend. You can purchase it in either capsule form or liquid. I find the capsules easier to take and best for travel. At the first sign of getting sick or the second you start feeling run down, I would grab some. No need to take daily, just when you’re about to get sick or are sick.
- Be Mindful of Your Added Sugar Intake: First, by sugar, I’m not talking about natural sugars found in whole foods like fruit. I’m talking about the refined, white sugar. Ideally, it’s best not to consume more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. I know a lot of you will not want to hear this, but your Starbucks holiday drink probably has more sugar in it than you’d like to think. For example, a tall 12-ounce Gingerbread Latte with nonfat milk and no whipped cream has 28 grams of sugar and a 16-ounce drink has 37 grams! That’s more than our daily limit in just one drink! Sugar weakens our immune system, making it much more difficult to fight off illness, plus it leads to weight gain and poor energy.
- Let Go of Any Guilt and Treat Yourself: I’m all about balance and treating ourselves. I don’t think a diet that is too restrictive is appealing or fun at all. If you’re incorporating these tips, eating healthy and working out the majority of the time, and want a treat, especially during the holidays, go for it! Really enjoy that treat, and please do not feel guilty afterward.