The holiday season can be joyous and magical, but it can also do a number on your health. Between hosting friends and family, spending money on gifts, and worrying about making every detail perfect, your stress levels might skyrocket. You may even get seriously hurt. While 27% of Americans said they visited an urgent care facility between 2014 and 2016, emergency room visits spike during the holiday season.
But tree decorating accidents aren’t the only way you might be harming your health during this time of year. With so much indulgent holiday food around and so many excuses not to fit in physical activity, all the merriment could cause you to derail your lifestyle goals. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. If you follow these tips, you’ll have a holiday that’s both happy and healthy.
Get Active With Loved Ones
Sitting around the fireplace (or the TV) during this time of year definitely sounds appealing, but that won’t do your health any favors. Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can change that by making it a point to fit in some fitness with your fam. You can shovel snow together, go to the local ice rink, go sledding, head out on a nature trail, try some cross-country skiing, or make it a point to start your morning with a trip to the gym. You can even turn a shopping trip into a cardio session (and take care of your shopping list at the same time!). As long as you’re moving, you’ll be in good shape — literally.
Make Healthy Swaps
Your celebrations probably involve a lot of comfort food, and there’s no reason you should have to refrain from partaking completely. But there are ways to make the foods your family loves a bit more healthy. For one thing, you can sneakily swap out some ingredients to make traditional dishes more guilt-free. In many cases, sour cream can be swapped out for almond milk, while applesauce can make a welcome substitute for canola oil and even some non-vegan products. If you can switch to a beverage preference with less sugar — opting for seltzer instead of punch, for example — you’ll be able to focus on eating your calories instead of drinking them. Can’t escape the fattening snacks? Bring a personal stash of your own or eat a healthy and filling meal before you show up to the party.
Keep Food Out of Sight (and Out of Mind)
Although 66% of Americans are on a diet, 50% say they’re unsuccessful at losing weight because they don’t have enough self-discipline. But it’s hard to harness your willpower when you’re staring right into a candy dish or a plate of cookies. If you want to resist, refrain from keeping these temptations within reach at the office and at home. When the food isn’t right in front of you, you’ll be more likely to focus on other things. And if you’re at a get-together with a buffet, move yourself away from the food table after you fill your plate. The farther away you are, the less likely you’ll be to mindlessly graze.
If you have a weight loss goal or simply want to improve your overall health this season, it can be hard to focus when there are so many delicious distractions. But if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll feel more prepared to face these loaded situations — and emerge triumphant.