December 16, 2022
7 hacks for a healthier holiday
BY Heather Alexander Dahl
If you’re facing holiday temptations and wondering how you’ll keep your blood sugar where you need it to be or how you’ll stick with your exercise routine, you’re not alone.
Navigating the parties, sweet treats and generous gifts without going full “bah humbug” can be a challenge.
But there are small tricks you can use to help manage holiday indulgences. Here are some hacks MD Anderson’s Wellness team recommends.
1. Don’t skip meals. Arriving to a holiday party or event hungry will lead to overeating. Eat consistently throughout the day to avoid consuming extra calories. Eating beyond the point of being full also makes your organs work harder to process the food, making you more likely to face heartburn and other digestive problems.
2. Get up and move in the morning. Schedule your exercise in the morning so you don’t have to interrupt your holiday plans later in the day. Try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
3. Drink more water. Staying hydrated can boost your energy level. Try drinking a glass of water before your first cup of coffee in the morning. Drinking water before, during and after meals can also keep you from overeating.
4. Try healthier versions of your favorite holiday foods. You don’t have to sacrifice taste or forego your favorite foods to eat healthy during the holiday season. Make mashed potatoes with milk instead of cream, leave out the bacon from those veggie dishes or choose frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. You can also try these tried and tested baking substitutes.
5. Have a fiber-rich breakfast. Try old-fashioned or steel-cut oatmeal, or 100% whole wheat toast to help avoid mid-morning snacking on holiday treats. Fiber helps your body digest food more slowly, so you feel full for longer. It also helps you avoid sugar spikes that can lead to insulin resistance. Add fiber to other meals for the same reasons. Try snacking on nuts and whole fruits, and add extra veggies and whole grains to your lunch and dinner.
6. Avoid snacking. It's so tempting to snack on appetizers at a party, but this can make it very hard to know how much you’ve eaten. You could easily go over recommended portion sizes. Fill one plate with food, and eat only that plate.
7. Listen to your body. Sometimes we eat when we’re bored or stressed or until we’re uncomfortably stuffed. Pay attention to the signals your body is giving you, and it will tell you what you need and when is too much. Try intuitive eating, which allows for treats but asks you to trust your body to tell you when to say no. Take your time and aim for a balance of healthy foods throughout the day.
Whatever you have planned for the holidays, remember to relax and have fun. If you can keep your health goals on track, that’s a bonus.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.