10 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
The holiday season is full of joy, laughter, and spending time with family and friends. But, it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year that’s always accompanied by hectic work deadlines, busy schedules, and plenty of food you’d normally only eat on special occasions.
Additionally, it’s the time of the year when the weather transitions from pleasant to cold, and sometimes extremely cold. Pair that with sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol, and a few extra slices of cake every night and you got yourself the perfect recipe for impairing your immune system, leaving you prone to infections, colds, diseases, and even the flu. Luckily, there are some easy things you can implement into your daily routine to stay healthy and full of energy this holiday season.
1. Focus on Nutrition
And by focus we mean spending more time each day to really pay attention to what you’re putting in your body. If you like having porridge for breakfast, maybe add some nutrient-packed goldenberries or switch it up for a healthy chia seed pudding. If your lunch consists of soup and salad, make sure both of these are rich in nutrients and satiating, so you don’t feel hungry an hour later.
By making your meals more nutrient-rich and filling, you’ll avoid feeling like you’re depriving yourself while eating healthy. And with that note, read tip number two.
2. Make Your Meals Enjoyable
There is nothing worse than eating a meal just to eat it. Spending some time to focus on your meals also means you can make them extra delicious and enjoyable. Think of the food you’re eating as not just an item you need to cross off your daily to-do list. Think of it as your ultimate fuel, the building blocks of your entire body, the “you are what you eat” statement. That way, you’ll less likely to reach for that cold slice of pizza that’s been sitting in your fridge since yesterday, and instead, take your time to make a nutritious and delicious meal.
3. Sneak Superfoods Into More Meals than Just Smoothies
Sprinkling camu camu powder or adding an overheaping scoop of cacao is great, but think of how many incredible ways you can add superfood into your daily meals. Add some ginger to your salad dressing, mix a teaspoon of maca with your coffee, make homemade Nutella with Criollo cacao and yacon syrup for your healthy protein pancakes, and add chia seeds to your morning oats to improve your digestion.
Don’t look at superfoods as unique ingredients for which you need to have a special way of using them. Add them to everything you make and you’ll see how easy it becomes making them a part of your regular cooking and eating habits.
4. Support Your Immune Health with High-Quality Supplements
No matter how healthy you eat, it’s almost impossible to get all the necessary nutrients you need from diet alone. Especially during this time of the year when the majority of seasonal fruits and vegetables aren’t as variable in micronutrients. That’s why adding powerful superfoods and smart, high-quality supplements is important to further support your immune system function.
Additionally, certain micronutrients like vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids can only be obtained from the sun or certain foods, so to ensure you’re taking enough and aren’t deficient, taking a supplement is a good way to go. Generally, we should all do with supplementing with some of the most important micronutrients like magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, and the aforementioned vitamin D and omega-3. Still, if you’re interested in knowing exactly how much you need, take a micronutrient panel test and ensure your body is getting everything it needs to thrive.
5. Improve Your Sleeping Habits
It goes without saying that quality sleep trumps almost every other habit or activity you can implement. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a variety of health conditions, from obesity and cardiovascular diseases to a weakened immune system and even Alzheimer’s disease.
So there is no better time to start improving your sleeping habits than now, during the time of the year when your body needs to deal with stress in a much more efficient way and increase its ability to rest, repair, and recharge every night. Try to make your bedtime and wake-up time consistent throughout the week, unplug all tech devices from your bedroom, stay away from blue-light emitting screens and heavy meals at least two hours before sleep, and ensure your bedroom is dark and comfortable so you’re able to reap all the benefits of uninterrupted sleep.
6. Move Your Body
This tip doesn’t necessarily have to mean working out. Exercise puts stress on your body and if you’re already in a stressful state, getting in a HIIT workout or a really intense Peloton ride might not be the best for your body. Yoga, pilates, or even simple walking might be way better for your nervous system, helping you transition from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest” mode, relaxing your body, and helping you lower your inflammation.
Staying active is one of the most important factors to ensure longevity and promote overall health, so if your busy holiday schedule doesn’t allow regular time at the gym or your favorite yoga studio, don’t stress about it. Instead, focus on getting some daily movement, whatever it is. Even walking to and back from your office or the grocery store counts!
7. Avoid Processed Foods and Sugars
And just as important it is to include certain nourishing foods and superfoods into your diet, so is to avoid those ingredients that cause inflammation, aggravate your stress response, weaken your immune system, and increase your risk of disease and infections.
Ultra-processed foods can be found on every corner and usually make 70% of every grocery store. And the majority of them contain plenty of added sugars, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and a variety of artificial thickening agents, colorings, additives, and sweeteners. All of these ingredients only work against you and your body, making you prone to everything from the common winter cold to the most severe diseases of today like cancer and dementia.
8. Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Other Unhealthy Habits
In addition to unhealthy foods, there are certain lifestyle habits you should quit or at least limit to a bare minimum if you’re looking to protect your health, and not just for the holiday season but also long-term. Alcohol and smoking are both linked to a variety of diseases and health conditions from heart attacks and diabetes to hormonal imbalances and cancer.
9. Relax, Take it Easy
Probably the hardest, but also one of the most beneficial tips to help you stay healthy this holiday season is to find a way to relax. The hectic aspect of having to find the perfect presents, do all house chores, plan out holiday dinners, work, focus on your family, and still find some time for yourself in the process can be extremely taxing on your body.
The importance of taking a moment to pause, stop, reflect, and literally tell yourself to calm down hasn’t been more prominent than during the holidays. And that’s why you need to work extra hard to find those routines that help you relax. Whether it’s reading a book, drinking hot cacao in front of the fireplace, soaking in a bathtub, or even getting to bed early - whatever it is, do it. And make it a priority. Because if you don’t function, nothing else around you will.
10. Focus on the Spiritual
And last, but not least, this is the time of the year that for most people, whether they believe in God or not, brings them closer to their spiritual side. Prayer, meditation, or whichever other form of accessing and experiencing your own spirituality awakens when the holiday season is near, so embrace it fully and allow its powerful effects to have a positive impact on your stress levels, inflammation, and your overall well-being. It’s incredible what tuning into your own spirituality can do to protect yourself from disease and other harmful agents just lurking to attack your immune system.
The holidays are a stressful time of the year, but don’t let that affect you. Focus on the positives this season brings, pay more attention to the food you eat and the activities you do, and learn to accept what you can’t change. It’s all about letting go and turning your attention inwards.