December 2014

Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Author: Courtney Hillis

The holidays are here! It is the season for giving, celebrating, sharing time with friends and family, and, for many people, overindulging. Parties, family gatherings, and an abundance of sweet treats make it easy to partake in a few too many indulgences over the holidays causing the need for healthy resolutions come the New Year. However, it is easy to break this cycle and still have fun this holiday season. From healthy alternatives for traditional holiday treats and cocktails to ways to stay active during the holiday rush, this is your guide to a healthier holiday season!

As a certified health coach the beginning of the year is filled with clients wanting to get back on track, detox and lose the holiday weight. However, the easiest thing to do is to get ahead of the curve. You can enjoy the holidays without binging on sugar, alcohol and other temptations that stress the body and leave you feeling sluggish.

Attitude is the most important thing. Stay positive! Do not beat yourself up when you have a treat. It is important to allow yourself some indulgence. The trick is not overindulging. Here are some great tips for healthier eating throughout the holidays:

Be aware of your food sources. As always try to buy fresh, local, organic ingredients. Shop the farmers market. Whole Foods Market Hilton Head has vegan roast options, Hunter Cattle Grass-fed beef and organic turkeys. Scotts Market on May River Road in Bluffton has all-natural turkeys from Tanglewood Farm and grass-fed beef from Joyce Farms. Place your orders early.

Bring your own food. Bring a healthy side dish (try mashed cauliflower instead of traditional mashed potatoes) or an alternative sweet treat to the holiday gathering (mix pitted dates and unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor until combined and beginning to form large clumps; then form the mixture into quarter-sized balls. This makes delicious, bite-sized, healthier sweet treats that even kids love.)

Snack before you go. Munch on some veggies and hummus or another healthy snack before heading out for the evening. Snacking on a wholesome appetizer before a party helps reduce unwanted nibbling during the gathering and sets the tone for the night in regard to food. It helps your body gravitate towards healthier items while providing you with some fuel in case there are not many nutritious snacks at the celebration.

Keep healthy snacks at work. Avoid sugary temptations at the office by stocking your area with healthy snacks like trail mix, veggies and hummus, apples, pears, etc.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and during holiday events. Proper hydration will reduce snacking and help prevent hangovers.

Get plenty of Vitamin D. Speak with you doctor or healthcare provider about options for getting enough Vitamin D during the winter months. Fewer daylight hours and cooler temperatures reduce exposure to Vitamin D-filled sunshine. Sufficient amounts of Vitamin D can boost the immune system and help fight the holiday blues.

Opt for drinks and cocktails with less sugar. Enjoy vodka with club soda or cranberry juice with club soda instead of champagne or eggnog. Cranberries and cranberry juice keep it festive.

Enjoy holiday superfoods. Holiday superfoods that are delicious, festive and, of course, good for you, include sweet potatoes with no added sugar, pomegranates, cranberries, nuts and pumpkin.
In addition to nutrition, it is also important to stay active during the cooler holiday months. Some tips to keep you active:

Get the whole family involved. Go on family hikes. Play a game of touch football or basketball. Change it up and keep it fun.

Take advantage of the Lowcountry. We are blessed to live in a place with a warmer climate, beaches and so many nature and bike trails. Hit the sand on one of the warmer days for a jog or family walk. There are also countless trail options and parks, from Sea Pines to Pinckney Island to the Bluffton Nature Trails.
Try yoga. It’s indoors, warm and relieves stress—a perfect combination for the holidays.

Carve out time. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is easy to skip gym time. Make sure to set aside time to be active. It is the simplest way to make certain it gets done. On days you find yourself too busy, squeeze in simple exercises such as squats and lunges.

Eating right and staying active will actually make the holidays more enjoyable. Think about it! No more holiday sugar crashes, headaches and hangovers. Look good, feel great and be happy throughout this holiday season, and next year’s resolutions can be about your shopping addiction instead of your holiday food indulgences.

Happy and healthy holidays! 

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