The holiday season is upon us! Between celebratory dinners and desserts, traveling to visit friends and family and constantly changing schedules, the holiday season can be very overwhelming. With the excitement of the holidays, it is easy to become a bit careless when it comes to healthy food choices, consistent exercise habits and avoiding holiday depression, especially with the outbreak of COVID-19. Don’t worry, you are not alone! Just remember to be aware of the price you may pay and the steps backward you could take after a year of hard work. Below are some tips to help you combat these unhealthy holiday habits!
1. Set Aside Time for Yourself
Remember to take time for yourself and get out of the chaos, even if only for an hour or so. This can go a long way when it comes to fighting depression. Explore this more in-depth list of ways to avoid depression from the Mayo Clinic!
2. Maintain Regular Exercise
Now more than ever, it is important to continue your regular exercise program. Regular walking or aerobic exercise will go a long way in balancing caloric indulgence during the holiday season. It can also increase your energy levels and improve your mental health. You can calculate your target heart rate as follows: 220-your age X 0.7. Your target heart rate is the rate at which your body is receiving the best aerobic exercise benefits based on your age. Therefore, the closer you get to your target heart rate, the closer you become to receiving the best aerobic exercise benefits. Follow us on Facebook for ways to pursue heart healthiness, including exercise tips!
3. Do Not Overeat
Overeating is probably the most common mistake when it comes to eating during the holidays. It is always important to maintain a healthy diet, especially if you have chronic medical conditions. A few days or weeks of a poor diet can sometimes land you in the hospital for an extended period of time. Enjoy the holidays but remember, moderation is usually the best compromise this time of year, especially if you are diabetic or have a chronic heart condition. Believe it nor not, self-control will go a long way!
4. Drink Water Before Your Meals
Drink a glass of water before your meals! This will decrease the amount of food you eat with your meals and it adds no extra calories.
5. Avoid Exposure to COVID-19
There are simply steps you can take to limit your exposure to COVID-19. Try wearing a mask at family gatherings and being aware of what you touch. You can also use paper towels instead of hand towels to decrease your exposure to germs and sit at the end of the table instead of the middle. Lastly, consider using FaceTime or another video call platform for family gatherings. Even if only done for some gatherings, this will limit your overall possible exposure to COVID-19. Want more ways to avoid COVID-19 during the holidays? Here is a list of ideas from the CDC!
6. Create Routines
Aim to create daily routines, even if they are small. Routines allow you to have a plan for the day, increasing your sense of control. Daily exercise is also a great way to combat the stress of the holidays! We recommend making exercise a part of your routine. Read this article from Piedmont Healthcare for a closer look into why routines are good for your mental health!
7. Be Aware of What you Drink
Celebratory holiday drinks are not always bad, but drinks often increase the number of calories and sugar you consume. Alcohol and other drinks high in carbohydrates and sugar can quickly add extra calories that you may not consider. Try putting fruit in your water to give it flavor, drinking juice or drinking carbonated water as alternatives.
8. Plan to Exercise
We make plans throughout the holidays to see family and friends, make food, buy presents and continue traditions. Why not make plans for your health? In general, at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise is recommended for a minimum of three times per week. You can walk outside, use a treadmill or use a stationary bicycle. Whatever gets you moving! If you can do more, great, but this would be considered a starting point and minimum requirement. The benefits of exercise are well established and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and may lower your blood pressure. Start planning your workouts with the advice from Johns Hopkins Medicine!
9. Pay Attention to Your Salt Intake
Pay close attention to the amount of salt you are eating. It is likely that you are consuming up to three or four times your daily salt diet in one meal. In general, ham, potatoes and breads are loaded with large amounts of salt and carbohydrates. Turkey on the other hand, without significant gravy or stuffing, is a great lean meat that is a better choice for the holidays. Ideally, foods high in salt or carbohydrates are a good to avoid but this is, admittedly, difficult. Moderation when it comes to salt and carbohydrate consumption will go a long way! Explore the Mayo Clinic’s list of Low-Sodium Recipes that you could incorporate into your diet!
10. Exercise with Weights
Strength training is a great way to exercise and maintain muscle mass. Weight training with medium intensity weights is recommended not only for your cardiovascular health but also for your orthopedic health as well. So, if you are able, weight training is a great way to stay in shape.
These tips are just some of the ways you can fight against mental and physical unhealthiness during the holiday season. We hope you find them to be helpful and encouraging as you are entering into the holiday season.
As always, thanks for letting us KARE for your heart!