Prevention & Wellness
Maintaining Your Health Over the Holidays
Between calorie-laden holiday meals, Christmas drink events, and shopping trips eating in to gym time, it can be difficult to stay on the health track during the festive season.
Cayman Health knows it’s not realistic to expect you to always maintain the same health routine while fitting in social events, but there are some things you can do to stay on course and make it easier to return to normal schedules come January.
Try to restrict your meals to one plate. It’s Christmas and you don’t want to miss out completely so take advantage of seasonal dishes you won’t get year-round, but maybe give more commonplace food stuffs a miss to keep portion sizes down.
Eat meals slowly. It can take up to 20 minutes to feel full, so racing to finish your food may mean you eat more than necessary.
If you’re in charge of cooking, or are bringing a dish to a potluck dinner, consider recipe modification or healthy recipe alternatives. You’ll still be able to make holiday favorites but will cut the calories or fat. BBC Good Food has some low-fat options.
Move away from the appetizer table at parties! Fill one small plate and mingle elsewhere instead of being at arm’s reach and therefore constantly picking – it’s amazing how these small bite sized pieces add up.
Don’t skip meals in an effort to ‘save’ calories for a big Christmas binge – you’ll just end up eating more.
Alcohol can pack a punch in the calorie department, as well as delivering ‘empty’ calories devoid of nutritional benefits. Try to stick to lower calorie options such as white wine spritzers, light beer or vodka soda, and nix too many egg nogs as that creaminess doesn’t come calorie free.
Add non-alcoholic options into your drink rotations. Alternate between booze and water to keep calories (and tipsiness) down. Drinking too much can also lower our inhibitions and mean we eat more.
When it comes to water – stay hydrated. We can sometimes confuse thirst for hunger leading us to eat more, so drink water throughout the day. Your body will thank you.
Try to fit in a workout, even if it’s just 20 minutes, before a holiday meal – you know it’s unlikely you’ll do it after!
Take advantage of holiday fun runs. There are quite a few to choose from, including Camana Bay’s annual Santa Fun Run on Nov. 26, the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre Jingle Bell Run on Dec. 10, and Dashing Thru the Sand on Boxing Day. Christmas breezes also make these runs more enjoyable than their summer counterparts.
Remember – anything is better than nothing. Park a bit further away from the store you’re doing Christmas shopping at, take the stairs in the office instead of the elevator, or do an extra brisk lap around the supermarket while picking up that turkey.
Traveling can make illness more likely due to routine changes, low humidity in airplanes, overindulgence, and high traffic areas being a breeding ground for germs. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often while traveling, make sure necessary vaccinations are up to date, and stay hydrated.
Traveling may leave you vulnerable, but illness can happen when we stay put too! Visiting family members may bring bugs into your home, the business of the season may wear down immune systems, and office parties may make it more likely you’ll come into contact with sick people.
Keep your immune system up to scratch by ensuring you get enough zinc; selenium; iron; copper; vitamins A, C, E, and B-6; and folic acid – these nutrients have important influences on immune responses.
Lack of sleep can affect your immune system so make sure you get enough. Studies show that people who don’t get good quality sleep, or enough, are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, and are likely to take longer to recover if they do succumb to illness. Aim for seven to eight hours per night.
Overall though this Christmas, cut yourself some slack. Remember it’s the holidays and you won’t enjoy them if you’re constantly scrutinizing your eating and exercise habits. If you’re on a weight loss mission accept that it would be more realistic to maintain your weight over the holidays, instead of losing weight, and be happy with that!