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Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle during the Festive Period.

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Let’s face it, food and drinks are the first thing that pop into our mind when the festive season gets closer. If you’re like most people, you have less time to work out and more sweet treats and buffet tables tempting you at every turn, but you don’t have to view this time as a test of your willpower.

To stay fit and healthy throughout the holiday season, it’s important to be prepared. Food excesses can lead to digestive troubles and the best way to prevent these digestive issues is to moderate your food intake, and the best way to do that is to know when you’ve had enough. Firstly, don’t force yourself to eat everything, but choose what you most enjoy. Secondly, try eating slowly as the brain takes about 20 minutes to let you know you’re full. Also, go easy on the appetisers, meats, desserts, etc to leave room for healthier choices. Filling half your plate with vegetables will help with digestion. Drinking lots of water will also help, as sometimes we might feel hungry but in reality we’re merely dehydrated.

Well-balanced meals will help you feel full, which is essential if you want to resist unhealthy party food. You might think that it’s better to save up your calories for a party by eating less during the day, but that’s actually a recipe for disaster. You can’t go to a party hungry and expect yourself to stay in control. Give yourself a chance to stay on track by eating well-balanced meals and a healthy snack before going to a party. If you skip a meal, it would be most likely that you’ll find yourself falling for something sugary, or even overeating when it’s time for another meal. Plan to eat regularly and often during the day. It’s also important to avoid eating approximately two hours before bed. Your metabolism slows when you’re asleep, so when you allow enough time for digestion before bed, you reduce your chance of digestive upset, and studies suggest that you’ll minimise your risk for weight gain, as well.

Never use physical exercise as an excuse to eat more! Don’t neglect your physical activities during the holidays as it’s even more important to stay active during this period. Besides being good for your overall health, exercise can help you get rid of stress and forget about your worries for a while. It’s even recommended to increase your level of physical activity during this time of festivities. For example, if you already train three times a week, train a fourth time; or increase intensity to your regular activities. Not only will you feel better, you’ll also burn more calories. Don’t lose sight of your normal routines during the holidays. Be sure to get enough sleep and exercise to keep the holiday blues from sneaking up on you.

Holiday celebrations and alcohol seem to go hand-in-hand for many, which probably makes the festive season more of a hurdle between us and our fitness goals. Technically, alcohol is a poison. It is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, initially causing disinhibition, then acting as a depressant. A hangover from the night before is a sign that the body is going through withdrawal from alcohol. There are two types of alcohol use disorders; alcohol dependence (alcoholism) and alcohol abuse. The difference is those with alcoholism are physically dependent on alcohol, whereas those who abuse alcohol are not, though their lives and health can be seriously impacted. With either disorder, avoiding alcohol during the holidays can be challenging, however not impossible. Things you plan, are things you do, so don’t be hesitant to plan ahead your alcohol consumption. If you usually feel a bit inebriated with the third glass of wine, set a limit to yourself to drink two glasses. Self-control and self-discipline are two major pillars that determine whether we succeed in our journey to reach our goals, or not.

For parents, it’s a chance to be a role-model. The holiday season offers an excellent opportunity to model the appropriate role of alcohol at parties. Children are astute observers of adult behaviour and are more influenced by your actions than your words. Don't give the message that alcohol must be a key ingredient for good times. Those festive holiday celebrations will be remembered by your children for years and serve as a lifelong guide, so give them the best of memories. Don’t forget to keep others safe this season. If you think a friend or family member may have had too much to drink and plans to drive home, don’t be afraid to tell them that you are concerned for their safety and the safety of others.

Festive season parties, lunches, dinners, invites? Do not worry, go and have fun! By doing so it does not mean you have to overindulge in unhealthy food and beverages. Use the above tips and have a good time! Let’s enjoy this festive season in a responsible, balanced and a healthy way!

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