‘Tis the season, dear readers. In the span of a few weeks, your kids are going to see their families much more often than they usually do. A wonderful bit of family bonding is what the holiday season is all about, but this time of year also brings about an excess of snacks that are hardly the marks of a healthy diet. Did you know more than 40% of kids have dental cavities by the time they reach kindergarten? With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all in a row, it’s not to difficult to see how the holiday season might contribute to that. You don’t have to be a party pooper, though. Just tackle the remainder of this year’s holiday season with a little moderation in mind and consider these healthy snack alternatives.
Shop Smart When You Host
Although hosts have control over the meals and snacks at a holiday party, it can still be hard to make healthy choices when you want to please all of your guests. When you go shopping and are looking for your ingredients, it’s all too easy to pick up the less-than-healthy party pleasers that stores display front and center. Instead of rushing through your shopping list and grabbing these obvious options, try to pick items from the outside aisles. This is where most grocery stores keep their more nutritious foods. If you can, try doing your shopping during off hours as well. That way you won’t feel rushed by the crowds and take time to make smart, healthy choices.
When you plan your holiday meals, try to focus on produce. Look up new recipes that boost the flavors of fruits and vegetables rather than masking them in heavy glazes and sauces. Simply tossing fresh veggies with olive oil, garlic, and salt and then roasting them in the oven makes for a delicious and healthy side dish.
If you’re concerned about what your guests will think, let those worries go. About 67% of millennial consumers say they love to order healthy options at restaurants, so they should also be down with some healthy homecooked meals. Assuming the other generations can also get on board, everyone will be going back for seconds of your delicious meal.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleeping for the recommended seven to nine hours per night has a plethora of positive health effects, but one of them can be particularly useful for the holiday season. Adequate sleep has been associated with a healthy balance of hunger and satiety hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep, you may experience changes in mood and appetite.
To effectively stock up on sleep, try to start developing a healthy sleep routine sooner rather than later. Go to bed and wake up at consistent times throughout the week, even on the weekends. You’ll also need to be completely comfortable in your bed. This could mean changing some night-time habits. For instance, if your pup is among the 45% of dogs in the U.S. who sleep in their owner’s bed, you may want to get them a doggy bed of their own for your comfort. Changes like these might be tough, but they can ultimately lead to more restful nights for you.
Treat Yourself To One Fancy Holiday Cocktail
Alcohol is one of the biggest culprits of holiday indulgence. Not only do many adult beverages contain more calories than you think, but you’re more likely to eat a larger amount of food when you’re feeling a little tipsy. Alcoholic drinks can also pose problems to the 32% of people who say they are concerned by the look of their teeth, as dark wines and liquors tend to stain your pearly whites. To mitigate all of these issues, try to just have one holiday cocktail per night during your festivities.
Once you’ve treated yourself to your favorite seasonal drink, switch to something lighter in calories and alcohol content. Wine and dark beers are great options in moderation. Plenty of alcohol-free beverages can also get you in the party mood while not clouding your judgment. A drink like green tea can be perfect for this purpose, as an eight-ounce cup contains about 20 to 45 milligrams of caffeine, giving you the cozy comfort of a warm drink with a slightly caffeinated boost.
Find Ways To Exercise
Winter isn’t the ideal season for exercise, but if you can find creative ways to get your blood pumping your body will thank you for it. Regular exercise during the holidays can also allow you to indulge in more treats, as you shed calories during your workouts. If you have some free time on a clear day, try going for a hike with friends. Just one mile of hiking burns an average of 500 calories. Better yet, you can take in the wonder of your local parks and spend some quality time with your loved ones.
If you don’t have the spare hours that a hike requires, keep up with exercise by doing a few short spurts of activity throughout the day. Fit in 10 minutes of cardio during your lunch break or 15 minutes of weights before you pick the kids up. If you can get all of your short bursts to add up to the surgeon general’s recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day, you’ll be in good shape for the holidays.
When it comes to healthy eating over the holidays, there is an endless number of helpful strategies. No matter which you choose, it can help to commit to them with a friend or family member. You can hold each other accountable for going to bed early every night or drinking just one cocktail at a party. These efforts will pay off at the end of the holiday season when you don’t feel like you need to make up for months of indulgences. You’ll just be able to look back fondly at your family-filled holidays.