The holidays are a time of celebrating, gathering with friends and family, and let’s be honest—overindulging. In Vancouver and throughout the world, the winter holidays are a period of socializing and eating. It can be hard to navigate a healthy diet and maintain your weight amidst an abundance of rich appetizers, hefty buffets and sugary treats.
Chances are that you try to eat healthfully throughout the year, but the holidays can be a challenge. How do you maintain your health in spite of plates of sugar cookies and glasses of eggnog? Our advice is to enjoy these things—they only come once a year—but it’s possible to enjoy them in moderation, maintain your health and avoid gaining weight. Here’s our best advice:
- Don’t go to a holiday event hungry, especially if the event is cocktails and appetizers. Plan to have a snack or small meal before you go. By doing so, you’ll be able to focus on connecting with people you haven’t seen for a while instead of making a beeline for the food table.
- Since the holidays are such a food fest, healthy snacks are more important now than ever. Some suggestions for wholesome and filling snacks include veggies dipped in guacamole or hummus, mixed nuts, fruit, and yogurt with berries.
- Think about what you drink. Both alcoholic drinks and mocktails can be high in sugar and calories. Try alternating your drinks with flat or carbonated water. This is especially helpful if you’re drinking alcohol; it can mean the difference between waking up with a hangover or not.
- Going to a pot luck? This is a great opportunity to make and bring a healthy dish. And it’s a good way to know that there will be at least one nutritious choice on the table.
- Make protein a priority. It reduces feelings of hunger and helps to control your appetite.
- Ditto for fiber for the same reasons. Plus, fiber is great for your digestion.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. While the connection between healthy eating and sleep may seem like a stretch, not sleeping enough can cause you to feel hungrier, exercise less and even lower your metabolism by throwing off your biological clock.
- Keep your stress under control and take time out for yourself. I know, the holidays can be an incredibly demanding time of the year. However, stress can cause food cravings, prompt overeating and affect sleep quality. Scientists have found that stress is associated with higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which they believe is the culprit in increased appetite, stress eating and weight gain.
- Move your body. Physical activity keeps your metabolism humming along, burns some calories, helps to relieve stress and just plain feels good. And the holidays are a great time for long walks to catch up with loved ones.
- Finally, think about food therapy. At BodaHealth, our practitioners are experienced and on hand to help make sense of what’s right for you when it comes to eating healthfully, especially during the holidays or when you’re setting goals for the New Year. We recognize that each person comes with a unique body and health history, and eating well means something a little different for everyone.
If you’re struggling with weight issues, digestive problems, fatigue, fertility issues or any other health problems, getting your diet and health on track can be a part of the solution. Both during the holidays and throughout the year, our acupuncturists, holistic nutritionists and naturopathic physicians are ready to answer your questions and help design the best eating plan and therapeutic treatments for you. For more information, just give us a call.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.