There are 6 weeks until the New Year. Many people wait until Jan 1 to start healthy habits. We often take the weeks before the holidays to splurge on food, alcohol and celebrations. We skimp on sleep and skip workouts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s important to spend time with friends and family and to enjoy treats that are only available at this time of year but, if you spend the next six weeks skimping on sleep, bingeing on sugar, indulging in alcohol and skipping the gym, you will wake up on Jan 1, 2019 feeling dehydrated, bloated, heavy, tired and more likely than not, deeply regretful.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You CAN enjoy the holidays and also take care of yourself with a few healthy tips.
First, do not over indulge on alcohol. More and more research is suggesting that alcohol, in any amount, is bad for our health. This time of year, people tend to drink way too much and way too often. Instead, of drinking at every social gathering, plan for the parties and celebrations where you know you will want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage and the rest of the time, be mindful and stick to non-alcoholic beverages. You don’t have to have wine with every dinner, or beer at every outing. Drink plenty of water as well. It will help keep you hydrated and is a great way to pace the alcohol intake. Consider alternating a glass of alcohol with a glass of water or club soda to avoid drinking too much.
Next, get enough sleep. Make sleep a priority. A lack of sleep makes you more likely to eat poorly, increases your risk of getting sick and reduces energy levels. Set a firm bedtime and stick to it. Of course, there will be occasional nights when you stay up later than anticipated, but if you are making sleep a priority MOST of the time, your body will bounce back more easily those times when you do stay up too late.
Also, make sure you don’t skip meals and ideally, make sure you are consuming enough protein and fat throughout the day. Protein and fats help keep your blood sugar in check and this will make it easier to control your cravings when the gingerbread and eggnog start to appear. Consider starting your morning with a protein shake packed with greens, protein powder, nut butters, some fruit and a non-dairy milk of your choice. Surviving on chocolate and Christmas cookies for 6 weeks will leave you feeling bloated and heavy and nobody wants to go into the New Year with extra weight to lose.
Get some exercise. If you follow the tips above, you will have more energy to maintain your exercise regimen. Maybe you won’t make it to the gym as often as you usually do but you can always go for a walk instead. Keep active and your body and mind will feel better through the holidays.
Finally, take your supplements. If you know you are going to be eating an extra rich meal, take some digestive enzymes ahead of time to help digest the meal. Probiotics are a great way to support digestion and your immune system so you don’t get sick. Vitamin D is a must this time of year as well. It supports the immune system and improves your mood through the shorter days of Winter.
When it comes to the holidays, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t need to be perfect through the holidays, but taking a few measures to support some healthy habits will make sure you can enjoy this season without sacrificing your health.