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Santa with plate of holiday cookies | Pixabay

5 Steps to Staying on Track During the Holidays

By Kristy Warren

'Tis the season of overindulgence. With heaps of delicious treats stocking every holiday party and company break room, it’s easy to overdo it a little during the season. With winter's shorter days and colder weather, we often fit in less physical activity. Less exercise combined with an influx of high-calorie goodies can torpedo our good health habits.


Head off health headaches and the need for healthy New Year’s resolutions with these tips on maintaining your wellness goals during the season of giving.


Follow these six healthy tips to stay on track during holiday indulgence:


1) Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals in preparation for overindulging at your holiday feast can backfire in a big way, making it harder to control portions and leading to overeating. Some research says that if we skip meals often, our bodies may go into “starvation mode” and begin to store more body fat, which leads to overall weight gain. 


2) Schedule exercise. It can be hard to find motivation to work out during hectic holidays, but by making time to get active, you’ll clear your head, relieve stress, and maintain your health.


To make exercise a little easier, pick the type of exercise you enjoy the most, grab a workout buddy, and crank your favorite music.


Want to involve the whole family? Schedule a family walk, a little sledding time, or a friendly snowball fight to get everyone moving. Exercise doesn't have to be a drawn-out gym session to convey health benefits. Getting 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise during the day can make a big impact on your wellness!

Parents on a walk pushing a stroller; family walking outside during winter


3) Balance your carbohydrates. Scaling back carbohydrates can help with weight loss, but instead of eliminating all carbs, focus on pairing healthy whole-grain carbohydrates like wild rice, barley, or whole-wheat crackers with lean protein and veggies for a balanced meal. Indulge in slowly digested carbohydrates with less added sugar, instead of no carbohydrates at all.


4) All things in moderation. Your digestive system doesn’t appreciate the non-stop parade of rich foods and beverages associated with the holidays. Aim to add more veggies, fruits, lean protein, and water to your diet to stave off your desire for a holiday binge.


5) Stay hydrated. Tempted to go back for thirds? Drink a full glass of water instead. Water supports your metabolism, helps curb your appetite, aids in preventing and relieving constipation, and rids the body of excess sodium. Drink 8 – 10 glasses of water each day.


Frosted Christmas Cookies featuring prancing reindeer and decorated christmas trees | Pexels

6) Play it smart with the leftoversFreeze them in batches for later use to cut down on feeling like you need to plow through all the leftover food at once. It's also a great way to whip together a quick meal on a busy night! If a certain dish won't freeze well or you don't have the room (or willpower) to freeze it, you can send the most tempting leftovers home with company.


Share the love with your coworkers or neighbors. Consider donating leftover goodies to a holiday event or volunteer organization like a meal outreach service or soup kitchen—just be sure to double check whether they accept homemade donations or only unopened, storebought goods.


For more wellness and nutrition tips, stay tuned to our health and wellness blog or visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/laurelhc.