Healthy Living During the Holidays (Yes, It’s Possible)

little_girl_on_halloweeen.jpgThe holiday season is right around the corner, kicking off with Halloween (admit it: you “sample” your kids’ bounty, don’t you?).

It’s easy to believe you can’t eat well and keep up with your exercise regimen during this hectic time, but we’re here to tell you that healthy living is possible, provided you follow our advice. 

Allow yourself to have an occasional treat. There’s nothing wrong with an indulgence. That’s what life is all about, right? So enjoy that Snickers bar or piece of pumpkin pie. The key is moderation. In other words, don’t gorge on the entire stash of Halloween candy. And don’t eat half a pie at 3am. But do allow yourself a treat.

If you want to counter-balance the treat, add in an extra workout. For example, if you hit the gym in the morning, add in a brisk walk after dinner.

Choose healthier options at the holiday buffet table. Healthy living is all about making better choices. Yes, the potato chips and onion dip look yummy, but veggies and hummus are also tasty—and a healthier option to boot.

Whenever possible, choose the healthier options 95 percent of the time and leave the remaining five percent for the special treats we discussed in our first point above.

Offer to bring a dish. If you’re heading out to people’s homes for parties and holiday gatherings, you have less control over the menu. But less control doesn’t mean no control.

Offer to bring a dish or two and make these dishes healthier options—ones that you look forward to dipping your fork into. Some yummy ideas:

The 10 Healthiest Party Foods. This list includes bruschetta, chicken kabobs, and sushi. Who says eating healthy has to be boring?

Healthy Party Snacks. This list is from The Greatist, which always has great roundup recipes.

Low-calorie Appetizers and Party Foods. From the Cooking Channel—many tasty ideas here.

Seek out extra motivation. What motivates YOU? For some, it might be keeping a picture of the beach you’ll be vacationing at in the spring taped to your computer monitor. For others, it might mean trying on your favorite pair of shorts every week to make sure they still fit (and if they start feeling snug, doing something about it). For others, it might mean working with a nutritionist and/or personal trainer who helps keep you on track. Figure out what motivates you and seek it out.

Watch out for caloric rabbit holes. We’re talking about mindless eating and drinking. For example, you’re standing next to a bowl of Doritos and the next thing you know, you’ve eaten half the bowl without even realizing it. Or someone is always refilling your wine glass and you don’t even know how much you’ve had. You get the idea.

It’s easy to lose track of what you’re consuming as you’re talking, laughing, and otherwise being festive. Don’t let this happen to you. Be mindful (not obsessive) about what you’re eating and imbibing. Sometimes simply being aware is enough to curb over-indulgence.

Be careful of holiday drinks. It’s easy to fixate over what’s on your plate. But be aware that plenty of calories lurk in festive holiday beverages, such as eggnog, buttered rum, and spiked coffee drinks that usually include whipped cream. Again, an occasional treat is fine. But refilling your eggnog glass five times isn’t the answer.

Avoid the comfort of the couch. It’s easy to let an active lifestyle slide during the hubbub of the holidays. After all, there’s so much to do, like shopping, cooking, wrapping, and so forth, which means gym time dwindles or getting up early for a run is out of the question. Don’t let this happen!

Remember, healthy living is a commitment. Make sure you block out time in your calendar for working out. If that means you need to bow out of an evening event so you can get up early the next morning, do it.

And, of course, find ways to sneak in mini-workouts. For example, if you’re heading to the mall, do a brisk couple of laps around the place before you hit the stores. If you’re baking cookies with the kids, stay standing and do some ankle lifts as you spoon the cookie dough. Every little bit helps.

How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holiday season? Share your tips and ideas in the comments.