Healthy Holidays: 10 Things to Do Every Day

Post by Paula Jahn, Co-owner, Registered Dietitian & Cooking Class Instructor

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Today is the first day of the last month of 2015. That’s 24 days until Christmas and 30 until New Year’s Day. While the Thanksgiving festivities are over, last week officially kicked off the “Holiday Season.” It is such a wonderful time of year, but for many people it is seen as a time that sabotages healthy habits. Why not break the mold and start some new, healthful habits today?

Here’s my list of ten things to do every day for the month of December to maintain health and balance through the holidays. Better yet, continue them year round. (Keep an eye out for a post on why/how not to make New Year’s resolutions).

  1. Be Active. This can include a class at the gym, a walk or jog in the neighborhood, or a HIIT workout at home. It doesn’t have to be formal, fancy, or cost anything. Moving your body daily is good for your mood, immune system, and overall health. We all need a extra help in those categories this time of year.
  2. Stretch. When it gets dark before rush hour, we spend more time stagnant. We crouch over computers, curl up on the couch and are generally a bit more stressed. A Yin Yoga class is ideal, but stretching at home can work wonders to increase flexibility, range of motion, and reduce stress.
  3. Cook. I subscribe to the train of thought that time spent in the kitchen is a true investment in health. A recent study suggests that families who cook dinner 6-7 days per week consume “significantly fewer calories”, more fiber, and less sugar than those who rely on restaurant or convenience meals. Take a cooking class this winter to gain skills and inspiration in the kitchen!
  4. Eat a Balanced Breakfast. Eating a healthy balance of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrate in the morning helps sustain energy, curb cravings, and sets the tone for the rest of the day. Here are some good examples.
  5. Put out the Fruit Bowl (Ditch the Candy Bowl). Set up your home and work environment to inspire healthy choices. Most of us are unlikely to go out of our way for candy and sweets, but likely to mindlessly eat them if they’re in our face. Give yourself a visual reminder to eat more fresh fruit.
  6. Eat a Green. Ideally, eat the rainbow. The focus on eating at least a serving of green vegetables every day is a good reminder to keep vegetables a daily priority.
  7. Snack Smart. Snacking between meals (or before those holiday parties) balances blood sugar and prevents impulse-eating. As with meals, snacks should contain protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrate. Simple examples: Hard boiled egg + piece of fruit; Apple + 2 Tbs nut butter; Whole grain crackers + 1 oz cheese. Click here for more creative plant-based snack ideas.
  8. Get Outside. There are many excuses to not get outside this time of year. Even in the rain and chilly temperatures, being outside is like exercise; it’s hardly ever regrettable once you motivate. Bundle up and take a brisk walk on your lunch break. The nearby Columbia gorge offers fantastic year-round hiking.
  9. Take a Break from Technology. The best time to do this is when you’re outside enjoying the crisp winter air. Leave the phone at home. Think. Talk. Hum.
  10. Relax and Go to Bed. I am not an expert on sleep hygiene, but we are beginning to understand the importance of good sleep. It plays an essential roll in hormonal regulation, weight management, stress, mental function, and immunity. Set a nightly routine that supports at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

Happy official holiday season!

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