Healthy for the holidays: Tips for healthy living

Local fitness coach offers ways to feel your best during the holiday season

Maria Currie is an Star Diamond Independent Team Beachbody Coach.

Tis the season for fun, families and stress. Buying presents, traveling and being around lots of food can wear you down. Did you know that the average American eats 32% more over the four day Thanksgiving weekend alone?

Despite your best efforts to keep unhealthy food out of your line of sight, you cannot control your environment as well as you can during the rest of the year. So, don’t let the holiday pressures interrupt your routine and make it even more challenging to follow your plans to stay healthy. Alleviate stress by taking the time to have a game plan. The easiest way to do this is to plan ahead and be proactive.

Here are some tips to stay healthy during the holidays.

1. Don’t plan to lose weight.

Yes that’s right! It is more realistic for people to set a goal of maintaining their weight. Trying to stay 100% on track during the holidays may be the exact thing that causes you to gain weight.

One possible reason for this is the Forbidden Fruit Effect (or Theory of Psychological Resistance). Your longing for whatever it is you can’t or shouldn’t have. The deprivation is what makes holiday food all the more tempting.

2. Get sweating! (and I don’t mean running around Christmas shopping). Exercise helps you cope with the stress because it releases endorphins that help boost your mood and energy.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that for healthy adults you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. Also, add in strength training exercises at least twice a week. Muscle burns fat and boosts your metabolism. Don’t have a solid thirty minute stretch? Try three 10-minute bursts instead. What’s important is making the time.

3. Pack snacks.

Packing your own healthy snacks will lead to less poor choices while traveling. You can have baggies of nuts, seeds and fruit. This way you are not tempted to grab junk food at the convenience store.

If you want to pack a granola bar, choose a cleaner one that does not have a lot of ingredients and is high in protein to satisfy you longer. Also, you should eat something small every 2-3 hours to avoid becoming too hungry and to keep your metabolism up.

4. Drink Up!

Water that is. We were taught to drink six 8oz of water a day, but the science behind that one size fits all mentality has changed. It is now recommended that you should drink half of your body weight in ounces.

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 ounces of water a day. It’s also very difficult for the body to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. Try drinking a glass of water instead of grabbing a snack, you may just be dehydrated.

5. Portion Control

Sure, we all want that one special dish we only see once a year. So don’t deprive yourself! Use your hand as a guideline for the portion you should eat. For example, a cupped hand is ½ cup and the palm of your hand is 3-4 ounces.

Also, use a smaller plate to fool your eyes and keep portions smaller. A bigger plate equals more calories. If you go out to eat or a plate is prepared for you, cut everything in half to play it safe.

6. Get your rest

Even with all of the craziness, you want to make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well can help you reduce your calorie consumption because it inhibits the release of ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone, while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger.

Plus, it will help you keep your immune system in check and prevent you from becoming the Grinch.