I’m sure you are all aware how difficult it can be for families to focus on a healthy lifestyle during the holidays due to shopping, family gatherings, and holiday parties. Families tend to over-indulge eating and drinking and pay less attention to physical activity. With a focus on healthy lifestyle choices and simple ideas for fun family physical activities, you can be sure to stay on track.

Since we will likely indulge in some of our favorite holiday treats, it is important to balance things out with a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Also, do your best to limit eating foods that contain saturated fats, as they may increase bad cholesterol levels as well as your risk of heart disease. Some of the most popular foods containing saturated fats are pizza, dairy, cakes, and pastries. Additionally, if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation, as the holidays tend to present lots of opportunity for imbibing on adult beverages. Alcohol contributes not only to possible stomach and liver issues, but also can easily add weight to your mid-section. To stay hydrated throughout the holiday season and in the cold weather, aim to drink at least eight glasses of water each day.

It’s not just food and drink that can put your health at risk during the holidays. Stress levels can be at their highest as well. It’s important to be aware of your stress levels and be proactive in reducing them. That means practicing healthy breathing (See my past editorial “How To Reduce Stress During The Holidays”) and getting adequate sleep 6-8 hours a night, which allows the body to recover from the stresses of the day. Also, finding a few minutes each day to meditate will aid in slowing your mind down and help you to develop a sense of calm. Remember to have a plan each day to get everything done from staying on top of the kids to schoolwork and activities, holiday shopping, and parties. Remember to make time for some family physical activity as well.

It is especially important to allow for physical activity during this time of year to help keep off the extra pounds and reduce stress. It will also allow you to spend fun time together as a family. Now that it’s winter, you need to be a little more creative with your choice of activities. If you enjoy the outdoors as a family, you can build a snowman, go sledding, go for a hike, or shovel the driveway — just be sure to dress warm when you’re pursing outdoor activities. If indoors is your preference, you can try ice skating, roller skating, bowling or indoor golf. And, if you don’t want to leave the house, then try hula hoop or jump rope competitions, or a workout DVD you can do as a family — just thirty minutes a day is all you need.

Don’t let the holidays get the best of you, start today and be proactive in making healthy choices for you and your family.

Happy Holidays,

Todd

Note: Please consult with your doctor before starting any new nutrition or exercise program.

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