Eat, Drink, And Be Healthy

How To Stay On Track While Still Enjoying the Holiday Season

Many people get stumped with staying on a healthy track in fall, winter, and around the holidays, what with all the delicious food and drinks served in abundance at the many merriments taking place this time of year, and the less than comfortable outdoor temperatures discouraging us from getting a little fresh air and exercise. But the upcoming season of celebrating doesn’t mean you have to steer away from the healthy lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to achieve or maintain. In addition to drinking plenty of water, watching your sodium intake, and getting plenty of rest, here are some other healthy options to keep in mind as you navigate the next few months of fun and festivities.

As we all know, holidays tend to equal food – lots and lots of good food. But we don’t need to over splurge. When attending holiday parties, pick and choose healthier appetizers. These are small food items that will satisfy your taste buds; but be wary of fried foods, heavy cheeses, sauces, and creams. Choose more wholesome foods such as fresh fruits and veggies, baked or grilled meats, and whole-wheat versus white breads. Choose healthier dips such as hummus or yogurt options. As for meats, try to avoid saltier choices such as ham and pepperoni, which can cause fluid retention. Chicken is usually my go-to healthy choice. And whenever you have the chance, choose salads, either at the party or beforehand. This will help to fill you, thus decrease the chances of your grazing.

Not worried about holiday parties, but more so of day-to-day life? Not sure how to get started? There are numerous cooking classes offered around the Triangle. Check out community colleges, culinary schools, and kitchen supply stores for schedules.

Local farmers markets offer fresh produce and healthy food choices for you and your family. Too busy to shop? Many companies now offer home delivery of fresh produce and homegrown honey, salsas, and treats that help making healthier food choices easier. Some offer organic products, provide online ordering, and automatic payment options … research the produce choice that is best for you.

Need someone else to do your cooking during this very hectic time of year? Local companies offer pre-made food options that can be picked up, brought home, and cooked with their directions. Even local grocery stores are making this a convenience for their customers. In addition, many area bodybuilding, CrossFit, and diet programs also sell pre-made meals or show participants how to measure everyday food options for healthy snacks and meals.

Being healthy isn’t only about eating right. Exercise is also a must for a physically fit lifestyle. An array of gyms, CrossFit programs, yoga, karate, kickboxing, and even circus-type exercise programs can be found throughout our region. If you aren’t interested in a gym membership, simply lace up a good pair of sneakers and get walking. You can walk indoors or out, depending on the weather … if it’s too chilly or rainy, head on over to the local mall – it offers the space and just the right temperature for a hearty jaunt. If it’s a nice cool autumn morning, throw on an extra layer and trek around one of our area’s many trails and parks while enjoying the magnificent autumn scenery. The many trails, while great for walking, are also ideal for jogging, biking, and hiking as well. Some parks even offer advanced athletic bars and gym permanent hardware to change the pace of your workout. 

Exercise doesn’t have to sound tedious and daunting. It can actually be fun. Participate in a new activity through your town’s parks and recreation programs. Think dancing is your thing? Research classes near you for ballroom, swing, shag, line dancing, ballet and barre, and more. Want to test your strength? Why not give indoor rock climbing a try? Remember how you felt roller skating or ice-skating as a youngster? Dust off those old skates and head on over to the local rink for a spin. And if swimming is your fitness choice, check out various indoor options available around the Triangle. 

In this digital age, it’s easier to keep track of your food intake, exercise habits, and daily steps. Many people wear manual step counters around their waists or on their wrists, while others use their smart phones (recommended apps include “My Fitness Pal” and “Calorie King”). 

Another key to staying on track during the holiday season, as well as anytime throughout the year, is having an accountable partner. Meet up with a friend for an athletic activity a couple of times a week, or to enjoy a healthy meal, trying healthier restaurants or food options that you never before considered. Better yet, meet over coffee, tea, or healthy smoothies instead of a whole meal – this will not only save you calories, but also money. Continue socializing while walking at a local park or around a lake. And remember that Christmas shopping, walking dogs, parking far away – it all counts.

Take your loved ones along on your well-being path by organizing healthy food and exercise options. For instance, plan a family skate night instead of a movie night. Enjoy a healthy meal before going trick-or-treating on Halloween, or before you venture to the neighbor’s annual Christmas open house. Let them help by researching and helping to prepare snack, meal, and dessert options the whole family can enjoy. 

It’s easy to get stumped while trying to stay on track this time of year, but mentally making the choice to change food and exercise options is the key. It definitely takes time, but seeing and feeling the improvements are the rewards. Remember that this is a season of joy, celebration, and togetherness. It’s a time to enjoy good food and good company, while making wonderful memories. So go ahead and take people up on those many party invitations that will be coming soon. Just keep these tips in mind while you’re celebrating … they will certainly help you enjoy a healthy holiday season.