How to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

Cooler weather, shorter days and social distancing may provide ample reasons not to eat well, exercise regularly and get out in the fresh air this holiday season. Although the holidays may continue to look and feel a little different this year thanks to the pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to make them happy and healthy. Start by trying to do something good for your mental and physical wellbeing every chance you get. Here are some ways to be safe, stay jolly and enjoy this merry time.

Gather Small

Family gatherings continue to be a personal decision. If you do plan to get together, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Consider celebrating with just the people in your household and those that are fully vaccinated. And if you must venture out or your gathering expands, takes steps to make your celebration safer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put out some recommendations that include properly wearing a mask and washing your hands often (or using hand sanitizer in a pinch). See other CDC suggestions for the holidays.

Pay Attention to Your Plate

If you can’t go without the holiday ham, remember to practice good portion control when eating. A good rule of thumb is to fill half of your plate with veggies, a quarter with grains (bread, rice) and a quarter with protein (meat). Even better, use your hand as a measuring cup. One thumb equals one serving of cheese. An open palm is about the size of a serving of meat. A closed fist is similar to one serving of fruit or vegetable. A cupped hand is one serving of grains.

Eat the Rainbow

It never hurts to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables ― and do so following the portion suggestions from above. It’s one of the best things you can do to give your immune system a boost. This will ensure you get nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin A, which are common in produce and also help fight off illness.

Resist the Urge to “Feast or Famine”

With all of the eating that goes on during the holidays, you may think it’s wise to only have one big meal on celebration days. But the fact is your body is not meant to be starved one minute just to be stuffed the next. If you approach a holiday dinner as just one meal and eat additional light, healthy snacks throughout the day, you will be able to enjoy holiday eating without a lot of guilt or overindulgence.

Be a Winter Walker
Being physically active can help you reduce holiday weight gain, seasonal blues and the stresses of the season. But what do you do if the temperature really drops or it gets dark before you can get outside? Take a walk inside. If you can practice social distancing at the mall, it’s a great place to be protected from the weather and have a well-lit, flat walking surface. Or, challenge yourself with the stairs in your own home for a good workout for your mind and body.

Fight Off Stress

Preparing for the holidays can be stressful. Although stress can’t always be avoided, ongoing stress causes your body to crave food and feel sluggish. So as not to stress eat during the holidays, try hydrating often with water, exercising or simply enjoying time with your family. The water and exercise will help curb the feeling of needing to eat. Being with your loved ones will also distract you from reaching for food. Just don’t forget to get good rest to build up your body’s ability to keep viruses away.

Relax and Be Thankful
A few seasonal splurges won’t completely derail you. Remember that what you are trying to achieve throughout the year are overall healthy habits. As long as you go back to healthy meals and regular physical activity sooner than later, you can take the time to enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer.

Remember, Self-Care is Important

Don’t let this busy season take a toll on your mental and emotional health. If you notice ongoing problems with sleep, changes in eating habits or difficulty staying focused, contact your doctor or a behavioral health counselor at Family Health Center on Virginia for help. Family Health Center is here to keep you and your family well throughout the fall and winter months. Plus, we offer telemedicine visits from the comfort of your home. Please call (214)618-5600 to schedule an appointment.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season!