The holiday season is here and everyone is looking forward to spending quality time with family, friends and, most importantly, expecting good-tasting food. The expectations are always high, so we all need to deliver, especially on Thanksgiving Day. But along with great-tasting traditional dishes and desserts there is always the not so welcomed extra calories, sugar and unhealthy fats.
While this can make it challenging to maintain a healthy diet and stay on track with your health and fitness goals during Thanksgiving (and throughout the overall holiday season, for that matter), some extra planning can go a long way. The holiday season might not be a time to lose weight, but it doesn't have to be a time to lose your health. The key is to go into the holidays with a proper plan. These easy tips will help you stay healthy and mindful as you celebrate the holidays with friends and family. You’ll also be able to stay mentally and physically healthy throughout the whole holiday season.
1. Break a Sweat During the Day
Despite Thanksgiving Day often consisting of sedentary activities, as we usually spend the day talking with family and friends, preparing food, snacking here and there, and watching movies and sports, we should always try to incorporate some movement-based activities as well.
What I like to do is to start the morning with a quick workout or run just so I already set the pace for that day and don’t have to worry about it after the feast. It’s important to maintain regular exercise for both your mental and physical health. Exercise is good for your body and can also relieve the stress that’s so commonplace during the holiday season. It's ok if you can't make it to class, but make sure that you get some activity in.
2. Skip the Unhealthy Ingredients
Although traditional dishes taste great, many are high in fats, carbohydrates and simple sugars that can quickly add to your total calorie intake. Don’t let junk food become the norm during the holiday season. Homemade everything can be difficult when you have a lot going on, but it can also ensure that you’re eating much healthier. Canned, processed, and pre-made foods are full of excess salt and sugar that you can avoid by making the dishes yourself.
Food additives and artificial flavors are used to enhance flavor, appearance or texture of a product, as well as to extend products shelf lives. While some of these artificial ingredients show minimum risk to our health, most of them are associated with adverse health effects and should always be avoided. A great rule of thumb is to avoid at maximum all of these “artificial” ingredients. Here’s a blog post I go a little further on details about that. Making the food from scratch will also make you much more aware of what you’re eating and when, giving you more control and awareness in the long run.
3. Hydration is Key
Our body also needs fluids and electrolytes to function at its best. Staying hydrated is super important for our bodies overall health. It’s easy during the holiday season to forget about the water and switch it for a couple of glasses of wine or beer, but dehydration is dangerous for our bodies and can cause a whole range of issues including allergies, asthma, colitis, constipation, migraine headaches and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few. Keep your water bottle with you at all times.
As I always mention, keeping your body hydrated is the bare minimum you can do to optimise mental and physical well-being. As a professional swimmer, I always have to make sure my body is at its maximum level of hydration, so I can perform at my best during everyday workouts and swim meets. Walking around with a water bottle or sports drink bottle has become part of who I am. When I go to that morning run or workout I always make sure I have a bottle of Hydra-Guard with me. Staying hydrated not only helps me to stay on top of my physical performance, but also I make sure I am always at my best mentally. Products like Hydra-Guard Sports Drink also help me to make sure I have my proper amount of Vitamins and essential electrolytes. One bottle has 20% the equivalent Daily Value of Calcium we need alongside with only 5g of REAL Sugar and no artificial anything.
4. Manage Your Portions
Take into consideration if you’ve been working out more or less. If you’ve been working out less, then you could make it a goal to eat more fruits and vegetables with every meal. If the workouts have been more intense, then of course make sure you’re getting enough carbs and protein – but don’t use that as an excuse to eat more sweets. Try to eat close to your regular eating times so your body does not get off schedule. Managing overall portion sizes is the best strategy for managing overall caloric intake.
Moderation is the most important tip when it comes to the holidays. Nothing says “upset stomach” like two servings of pie, three cookies, and some peppermint bark all in one sitting. Not only does this make you feel sick, it prevents you from eating a real meal, which is the primary food that will fuel your body.
BE LIGHT ON YOURSELF
Sticking with your health and wellness goals for Thanksgiving does not mean you have to give up on good times and good foods with friends and family. It is no fun to eat something and then feel guilty about it; we should be able to enjoy the foods we love fully. It is okay to still enjoy a slice of pie for desert, but maybe try adding some strawberries to it – they might even make it taste better! Acknowledging unhealthy eating habits right away can help you stay on track from the beginning. Focus on balanced meals and eating unhealthy foods in moderation.
Managing portions, choosing healthy ingredients, staying hydrated and breaking a sweat to this holiday are simple steps to take for maintaining a balance between fun, food, flavor, family, friends, and fitness while also staying focused on your personally meaningful health related goals.
We should always remember that vitamin and minerals — particularly A, C and E, as well as zinc — play an important role in keeping the immune system strong and staying healthy during this time. It’s also important to look for products that support your goals.
As a professional swimmer, the majority of the products and food I consume are from a natural background with extremely low to zero sugar and I choose not to have any artificial products on them. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink has been helping me recover after my swim workouts by replenishing my electrolytes with the right quantity while keeping me away from sugar and artificial sweeteners or food dye. If you want to check out the online store, you can use the code JOAO10 for a discount on your checkout.