Healthy holidays: Plan now for a fit and festive season

Healthy holidays: Plan now for a fit and festive season

It’s not officially the holiday season yet, but Halloween candy is already piling up on store shelves. Indulgence (and potential overindulgence) is just around the corner.

Instead of resigning yourself to letting all good habits go and planning to pick them back up in January, why not strategize now? That way, you’ll stay on schedule during the holiday hoopla. These seven tips will help you sail through to New Year’s Day with more fun and fewer regrets.

1. Plan for parties. Thinking you’ll skip a meal pre-party to “make room” for indulging later? Don’t. You’ll be so hungry (and feel so “deserving” of more treats) that you may be more likely to go wild and overeat. Instead, have a healthy, filling snack (like low-fat yogurt or a hard-boiled egg) before the bash. You can also offer to bring a healthy dish to share.

2. Have dessert. Remember the time you skipped the pie to save calories, but ate three helpings of mashed potatoes instead? Depriving yourself of your favorite treats can backfire. Scan what’s offered and choose to have a small portion of special foods you don’t get any other time of year. To help offset that slice of pecan pie or your cousin’s once-a-year butter cookies, cut back on other carbohydrates, such as bread and potatoes, during the meal. If you’re hosting, slice desserts into bite-sized portions before you serve it.

3. Cut back on cocktails. Alcohol is often a part of holiday celebrations, but excessive drinking is linked to health problems such as high blood pressure, liver disease, accidental injuries and some types of cancer. Swap cocktails for fun-and-festive “mocktails,” like fruit juices blended with seltzer or ginger ale. Or alternate alcoholic drinks with a serving of seltzer or water. Bonus: You won’t wake up with an aching head the next day.

4. Keep tabs. Before the busy holiday season peaks, spend a week tracking your daily activities. Then identify at least two 30-minute slots you can devote to physical activity each week. Put them on the calendar ­and treat them like a meeting you can’t miss.

5. Sneak in extra steps. It’s easy for exercise to fall off your schedule during the holiday bustle. Try to sneak extra activity into your daily routine. Take the stairs. Get off the bus a stop early. Park at the far end of the parking lot while holiday shopping. Organize lunchtime walks with co-workers.

6. Make a budget. A lot of holiday stress is tied to overspending. Make a budget ahead of time for holiday gift and travel expenses. If you have a big family, suggest drawing names instead of buying for everyone, or prepare handmade gifts instead.

7. Pause for air. To keep holiday stress low, focus on what you can control. Say “no” to unnecessary obligations and invitations. Set aside time for yourself, even just a few minutes to read or take a walk. Don’t worry about creating a “perfect” holiday. Instead, focus on spending time with the people you love.

Read more about managing stress before the holiday season arrives.

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