Healthy Tips for the Holiday Season

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we are officially entering the Christmas season. And, as we draw closer to holiday, people will begin to celebrate by attending gatherings, baking cookies, eating unhealthy snacks, and stress eating. So, what should we do to try and stay healthy?

It’s important to stay active and keep up healthy habits. Research recommends adults walk and maintain at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. This is easy to do during the summer, but it is equally important during the winter. Although walking might be challenging in inclement weather, getting outside in the fresh air is good for you and the sun and Vitamin D are essential to preventing seasonal affective disorder. If it is not nice outside, try doing some aerobic exercises like using an exercise bike, treadmill, or doing stretches. St. Therese hosts Stretching and Strength exercises every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30am-10:30 am in the Social Hall. Start slow and make a commitment to be “active” every day till the end of the holiday season.

Other ways to maintain a healthy holiday season is to eat a healthy breakfast every day, limit the amount of sweets eaten, and sleep at least seven hours per night. If you know you are going to be eating a large meal at night or attending a party, eat a light lunch using “smart” choices. Maintaining healthy habits during the holiday season will prevent you from “putting on those pounds” and you won’t need to make a New Years’ resolution to lose weight. Include your family in eating healthier food choices and involve them in physical activities. Although many families love to watch holiday movies during the Christmas season, get everyone involved in activities that include exercise and moving about such as decorating the Christmas tree, putting Christmas decorations up outside, or even walking at a mall or outside stores.

So many of us make foods and sweets to share with families, friends, and acquaintances, but limit the amount of goodies you bake. How many of us have cookies left over after the holidays and end up eating them? If you are hosting a gathering, try serving salads, fruit, vegetables, and lean protein like shrimp or salmon, instead of heavy, calorie loaded foods.

Although it is important to stay active during the holiday season, it is important to take some time for yourself. Take time to decompress and recharge. Do things you enjoy. Read a book, spend time with a friend or your pet, go for a walk, listen to music, take a long bath, get a manicure, pray, try yoga, or meditation. You don’t have to do as much as you have done in past. Although this might not be popular, consider decreasing the amount of gifts you buy. Have a discussion with your family and donate gifts to those in need. Consider donating to the Adopt a Family/Giving Tree program at St. Therese or volunteer your time at one of our church ministries, a food shelter, nursing home, or even animal shelter. If you feel you “must” host a big gathering, ask for help. Asking for help is good. It gets other people involved and makes them feel good. Pace yourself and relax when you can. Remember the “reason” for the season.

Lastly, make a plan for the new year. Take time to reflect on the past year and what you would like to accomplish or do different in the upcoming year. Instead of setting a goal to “lose weight”, commit to leading a healthier lifestyle. Set goals to improve your mental health and spirituality and ensure the goals are realistic and sustainable. All of these things will help make the transition to the new year easier, less stressful, and help you attain a healthier lifestyle.

References: Stress? Try Our Top 5 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season, written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. Reviewed: Oct 20, 2021.