How to have a healthier holiday
Group of 5k turkey trot run/walk participants gather for a photo before starting the race
Photo courtesy of Cleo Fogal
Staying healthy and active over the holiday season is always a struggle, but there are a few easy ways to incorporate healthy food options as well as physical activity for the whole family.
“Do your best to maintain good habits such as regular physical activity and a healthy diet; fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy,” Shelley DePinto, Nutrition professor and registered dietitian, states. “Plan quick and easy but nutritious meals and snacks to avoid overindulging in less healthy options. Hunger usually ends badly!”
Most holidays include a lot of food, and the main family or group event is usually eating. This does not have to be the case; with the rising rates of obesity in the United States it is important to incorporate physical activity into our daily routine, especially around the holidays when most people eat more food and tend to be less active.
“Do your best to plan out your days as you would normally,” Alexander Duncan, head cross country/ track and field coach at Cedar Crest College, said regarding healthy habits over the holiday season. “If you have a workout routine that fits well with your work and school schedule, try to keep that consistent through the holidays. If you miss a workout or have too many appetizers at the family party, don’t stress out.”
There are many meals that include unneeded fats and sugars that can be substituted with healthier ingredients, and still give you the flavor you desire.
“In many recipes, you can cut back on the sugar by 25% without detrimental effects,” DePinto said. “The same holds true for added fat in recipes. Typically, you can cut back or replace some or all the fat with a healthier option. For example, replace solid fat with oil.”
Many towns and cities hold charity events like a turkey trot, or a Santa walk/run 5k to promote physical activity that the whole family can take part in over the holidays. This coming holiday season may be different, but there are many virtual 5k run/walks being held to support charities and families in need.
“The traditional football game after a holiday celebration, walking or running/jogging through the neighborhood to look at holiday lights, snowshoeing, ice skating, and hiking to name a few,” DePinto states in regard to holiday activities that the whole family can enjoy.
With all that being said, it is important to relax over the holidays and enjoy time off from the busy day to day life. Spend time with your closest friends and family members and don’t restrict yourself from an extra slice of pumpkin pie once in a while.