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How to Keep Holidays Healthy and Happy - Part 1


How to Keep Holidays Healthy and Happy, Part 1

Are you dreading the weight you will put on this holiday season? Fight back with these tips on eating, exercise, and reducing stress.

By Star Lawrence
WebMD Feature: Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

The parties, sweets, alcohol, missed workouts, late nights, mall-crawling, small talk, family issues, breathing air on crowded planes - ah, it's the holidays. The experts say you need to get in training and be mindful to stay healthy and stress-free.

"Diet, exercise, mind and spirit are key," says Laurie Steelsmith, ND, a naturopath in private practice in Honolulu and author of Natural Choices for Women's Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. "You need to build up to this time of indulgence.

"We need to remember what this is all about: connecting with loved ones," Steelsmith says.

Diet Tips for Healthy Holidays

Even if you are foraging in a relative's kitchen and not doing the shopping, a healthy diet consists of five fruits or veggies a day, complex whole-grain carbs, and adequate protein. Surely you can grab an apple or banana and slap together a whole-grain, lean turkey sandwich instead of chowing down on cold ham fat and cookies.

Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Goddess Diet, tells WebMD that fiber is very important when eating richer meals than usual. "Nuts are a good source of fiber," she explains. "Sprinkle them over your food. They make you feel fuller."

Gillespie also suggests switching your biggest intake to mid-day. This gives you more time to work off the calories.

Hot fluids, Steelsmith says, like soup or tea can also thin out mucus secretions that can trap bacteria and viruses. She also suggests eating plenty of garlic, which has strong antiviral, antibacterial, and immune-stimulating properties.

Rubbing on hand sanitizer before a meal can stave off the unfamiliar germs.

Gillespie recommends liberal consumption of the holiday staple, cranberries, to stave off possible digestive distress from copious amounts of turkey and chicken, which can sometimes be cooked inadequately.

Steelsmith also advises packing a one-a-day multivitamin.

Steelsmith recommends drinking a lot of filtered or bottled water as you go through your day, even on shopping forays. Heat in a sauna, with plenty of sweating, helps detoxify. Or even taking a cold shower. Brrrr! Her prescription is to let hot water run down your spine for a count of 10, then cold for a count of five, then hot for a count of 10, for three cycles. "End with the cold," she says. "This is great for energizing."

Before a party, of course, plan to eat and drink sensibly:

  • Drink water beforehand. Alternate sparkling water with an alcohol drink, if you wish to drink.
  • Fill a plate and don't hover (or should that be hoover?) over the buffet.
  • When you load a plate, aim for 2-3 bites of each food that appeals to you. Better to eat something in moderation than yearn for it later and maybe overindulge.
  • You also can put some calories in the bank before a party. Eat lightly at all other meals of the day, but don't starve yourself all day. That can lead to that buffet-hoovering syndrome.

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