How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

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Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Why? Because it’s a holiday that is essentially dedicated to food. And I love food. Yes, I know, we’re supposed to be giving thanks and thinking about Pilgrims, but I’m really just looking forward to the meal. And the best news of all is that the great eats don’t stop after Thanksgiving – in my family, at least, Christmas and New Year’s Day also bring big feasts.

There are just a few problems with all this. The holiday season tempts us to go way overboard when it comes to eating, which can be rough on our bodies in a lot of ways. Not to mention that one too many pieces of pumpkin pie can leave you feeling a little queasy. So read on for a few tips to stay happy and healthy during the holiday season.

1. Work small amounts of exercise into your daily routine.

Several studies have found that regular exercise can help counteract the consequences of overindulging in unhealthy foods. The more rigorous the exercise, the better. Study participants have seen benefits from exercises as simple as walking. Because running or walking outside may be unpleasant or impossible in colder temperatures, the gym is your best bet. But almost no one’s in the mood to run out to the gym on a holiday. So work exercise in wherever you can. Hanging out with family? Your little cousins, maybe? Run around inside with them a little bit – you get a free pass to do that if you’re hanging out with little kids. Or volunteer to help set the table and take dishes to and from the kitchen. Not only will you score extra points with your grandparents, but you’ll also be keeping your body moving.

2. Don’t skip breakfast.

Sometimes people skip meals, especially breakfast, when they know they’re sitting down for a big dinner later. They figure that they will overeat at dinner, and they can make up for that by not eating breakfast. Wrong! First of all, after going all night with no food, your body needs fuel in order to function properly. And believe it or not, eating breakfast will help prevent you from eating too much later in the day. If you deprive your body, it will only make you more hungry later on. So eat breakfast, and you’ll actually be less likely to overeat at dinner.

3. Go for the fruits and veggies.

Holiday meals often include meaty main courses and sugary desserts. One way to cut down on your intake of fat and sugar is to pile your plate with fruits and vegetables, which are usually served as side dishes. Then take smaller servings of meat and other foods with high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll have this taken care of already.

4. Eat dinner before dessert, just like your mom told you.

Yes, there are three kinds of pie proudly on display in the family dining room. Along with cakes, cookies, and loads of other sweet treats. Turns out your mom was right, though. If you sample all those desserts before eating dinner, you’ll feel sick, and have no room left for a nutritious meal. So eat your peas and carrots first, then descend on the dessert table. If you’re already almost full, you won’t be as tempted to overdo it on the sugar. But by all means, it’s the holidays; do have at least one serving of dessert!

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