6 Ways to Have Healthy Holidays
Embrace Fast Food
When your holiday calendar is chockablock with family obligations, school recitals, secret missions to the mall, etc., something has to give. Enter “fast” food. But convenience doesn’t have to come in a takeout bag. One trick recommended by registered dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet ($15, amazon.com), is to keep a rotisserie chicken on hand. Then “bake a potato in the microwave, steam fresh or frozen vegetables, and you have a meal,” she says. If you must—and undoubtedly the time will come when you will need to—cruise through a drive-through or do takeout, know which are the smartest choices: the grilled-chicken sandwich instead of the burger, soft tortillas instead of crispy tacos. See a full rundown of healthy fast-food choices.
Shower Before Your Workout
When your life get crazy-busy, scheduling exercise in the morning makes it less likely to slide off the to-do list: You’ll get it in before your day starts snowballing. Not a morning person? Set out your clothes and program the coffeemaker at night. When the alarm goes off, jump in the shower for 30 seconds—not to wash up, but to wake up—and then move on to your workout. Shower as usual afterward. “It’s going to kick off your day in a good way, and the choices throughout your day are going to be a lot easier to make,” says fitness expert Amie Hoff, cofounder of fitkit.com.
Go for Seconds
If you’re the type of person who can’t resist making a return trip to the buffet, do it. Just make sure that you don’t overload your plate the first time around, says Hoff. Scoop out small portions of the foods you want to try, then go back for a little bit more of your favorites. Note the key words there: small portions, a little bit more.
Give Your Money Away
If the material side of the season is getting you down, find balance with a little more giving. “Truly giving to charity, whether it be time or money, is extremely helpful for keeping your holiday wits about you,” says Peter Dunn, author of 60 Days to Change: A Daily How-To Guide With Actionable Tips for Improving Your Financial Life ($15, amazon.com). In fact, the act of giving has been found to reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. If money is tight, you can still give, by volunteering in your community, fund-raising, even just clicking buttons on certain websites. For more information, see 10 Free Ways to Make Charitable Donations.
Snack at the Office
When faced with an avalanche of workplace treats, here’s what to do: Indulge yourself. But, says Gans, allow yourself just one treat per day. “It gives you something to look forward to, but also sets a limit,” she says. Make sure to keep your desk stocked with healthy snacks as an alternative to the sweets, and avoid walking by that $#@!! treat area as much as possible.
Don’t Set New Goals
It may sound counterintuitive, what with resolution time looming, but given the season’s food, activities, and parties, just keeping up with your current healthy habits is challenge enough. There’s no need to put more pressure on yourself now. “If your expectations are impractical, then you’re more likely to get frustrated and quit,” says Hoff. Striving to maintain your current weight is enough of a goal. And doing only that will still put you ahead of most Americans: On average, we tend to gain about a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.