Maximizing holiday health + festive fun

Festivities abound this time of year, which can mean more socializing, more cocktails, more dinner parties....more, more + more!  But it also leaves time for less sleep, less exercise, less self-care.  You can still enter into the new year happy and healthy without skipping out on all of the holiday fun.  Explore these trusted tips along with a variety of educational + entertaining nutrition reads that will help you make the most of the season!

1.  Try to think of leading a healthy lifestyle as a set of inputs to implement within your life rather than a set of restrictions.  So much of the focus on health is related to what we can't eat, drink, or do, and honestly, we don't need those depressing thoughts during the holiday season (not to mention, they aren't super effective either...regardless of the season!).  This NYT article explores how four positive lifestyle factors, including not smoking, not being obese (BMI <30), exercising at least 1x/week, and eating a healthful diet, affect heart health.  Checking the box for just one of those categories reduces risk of heart disease.  So set a goal for the holiday season to add in a fun physical activity each week (family hike, ski weekend, impromptu dance party), and shift your dining priorities to include more fruits and veggies, more whole grains, and more fish rather than dreading what you "should" skip.  

2.  A recent study by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab discovered that men eat more food when they have spectators than when they are not surrounded by others.  For women, spectators had the opposite effect, leading females to eat less food.  You'll likely be surrounded by friends, family, and coworkers at holiday parties, so be aware that the mere presence of other people can affect the quantity of food that you eat!    

3.  One way to help you eat less (and socialize more!) during those holiday parties is to enjoy a snack or two before arriving.  I know what you're thinking... who wants to fill up on raw celery when you have mini hotdogs awaiting you?!  But you're snacks can be exciting, tasty, and just the right size to still leave room for a couple bite-sized hors d'oeuvres at the party (instead of an entire plateful). Take a quick look at the gourmet snacks millennials are eating for a few creative ideas, and remember to combine fiber + protein to help you feel satiated.  

4.  Planning to indulge in a couple cocktails as we approach the New Year?  For the traditional folks, enjoy a glass of champagne, red or white wine, or a seltzer + spirit duo for a drink that complements your evening fare without breaking the calorie bank.  If you're looking for an impressive, creative, and calorie-conscious cocktail, try one of Health Magazine's "8 Healthy(ish) Cocktails for Your Holiday Parties."  The Sparkling Greyhound looks especially delicious to a grapefruit lover like myself (and boasts only 87 calories)!  To create your own healthy cocktail (or mocktail, if you prefer to skip the booze), emphasize fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to add natural color, flavor, and nutrients without excessive added sugar. 

Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy holiday season!