10 Tips to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits Through the Whole Holiday Season from 10 Tips to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits Through the Whole Holiday Season

10 Tips to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits Through the Whole Holiday Season

Decadent food, busy schedules packed with parties, shopping-induced stress and more decadent food: these things are not what the holidays are all about. However, for most they often characterize the season and commonly present themselves as obstacles that make it increasingly difficult to maintain healthy habits.

Just because this time of the year can be a bit hectic, though, doesn’t mean your health and fitness goals will inevitably be put on hold until the New Year. Over the course of the holiday season there are small things you can do to make sure your healthy habits won’t fall by the wayside while also enjoying all of the fun treats that come around this time of year.

Eager to learn how you can effortlessly maintain your healthy habits all through the holidays? Here’s what a few experts recommend.

Don’t get too lax about your diet.

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Dr. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, R.D., nutrition consultant and co-founder of Bazilian’s Health in San Diego and author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients, suggests keeping your mindset focused onbalanced eating habits that will keep your metabolism boosted. “Don't skip meals, but instead eat lighter portions consistently,” she explained. “Focus on the nutrient-dense but lower calorie fruits and vegetables on a regular basis to provide great nutrition, energy, vitamins and plant nutrients essential for metabolism, weight maintenance and good health.  Holiday eating is as much about what you should eat as what you should limit. And how you start the day counts. For an easy on-the-go recipe, try this Organic Vanilla Millet Muffin.”

Remember, every bit of exercise counts.

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“Keep up your exercise program, even if it's just 15 minutes a day,” Bazilian said.  “Set reasonable goals and get your exercise regimen on the calendar as a commitment.  Aim to maintain your weight, not to make any drastic reductions during the holiday season, that can often lead to frustration. Incorporate healthy nutritional support for your exercise and health.”

Take some time to decompress.

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“Holidays can be fun, but also hectic with the gift-buying, family and work get-togethers, and overindulging in food and drink, all while also trying to keep healthy,” Bazilian explained. “If you're feeling frazzled, do something small each day to get centered. Try a chamomile or green tea break, try meditation, write in or start a gratitude journal, or try aromatherapy.

Keep your immune system strong.

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“With cold and flu season in full swing, the busy holidays can also take a toll on your health,” Bazilian said, “So it's important to support your immune system to keep you feeling your best. Enjoy vitamin C-rich foods like citrus and kiwi or consider an immune-supporting supplement.

Don’t be afraid to deviate from the norm.

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“Change up the occasion for the holiday mix-and-mingle,” Bazilian explained. “Instead of yet one more cocktail or dinner party, why not try hosting a holiday brunch? Make ahead some easy and delicious items with nutritious vegetables like a Gruyère Mushroom Soufflé. Add a beautifully cut fruit salad and a festive mocktail and you've got a holiday brunch party.”

Set a goal.

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“Register for an upcoming fitness event, like a walk or race, and ask friends to join you,” said Lisa Corsello, an ACE Certified personal trainer and the founder of Burn, a San Francisco-based group fitness studio that incorporates Pilates, cardio and weights. “Having something to train for will help you stay focused on a long-term goal.” 

Create a healthy snacking habit.

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Jessica Sepel, an international nutritionist and wellness expert, recommends eating a healthy, satiating snack before going to parties, that way you’ll be less likely to snack mindlessly or overeat at meal time. Another option she suggests is to create healthy versions of your favorite treats to bring along and share with everyone.  

Don’t be afraid to say no sometimes.

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Remember, you don’t have to accept every holiday treat that comes your way. Practicing moderation by only indulging every now and then will help keep your nutrition and diet goals on track. “It’s OK to say no,” Sepel said. “Be confident and very politely say ‘no thanks.’” She also pointed out that you should never let a splurge lead to an out of control downward spiral. “Recommit to your healthy eating habits right away,” she said.

If you can, exercise early each day.

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Especially on days when you know you’re going to be busy, Sepel recommends getting your workout in early so you won’t have to worry about it later on. “It will help you feel focused in spite of craziness,” she explained. “And staying in a routine will mean it’s not as hard to get back on track after the holidays—no need to make it a New Year’s resolution.” See also: Simple Tricks to Make Morning Exercise Easier

Make the most of common holiday traditions.

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Sepel pointed out that many holiday traditions can also double as exercise. Like “power shopping,” for example. “The mall is a great place to get cardio in,” she said. She also suggested participating in holiday fun run races and taking walks with your family after big holiday meals.