The holidays can really disrupt your diet plan and drain your energy with work parties and weekend gatherings. Here are a few ways to stay healthy so you can enjoy every aspect of your holiday!
- Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water.
As we approach the holidays and the colder weather, the air also gets drier, making it easy to become dehydrated without you noticing it! By staying hydrated, you can avoid muscle fatigue and sluggishness while also boosting your immune system! Fluid balance is vital for keeping your core temperature consistent, therefore keeping you warm! Try a variety of room temperature and warm beverages like warm lemon water when you wake up, and sip on herbal tea, ginger tea, or golden milk tea throughout the day.
- Don’t be fooled by health halo foods.
Some foods disguise themselves as healthy foods, but in reality, they’re just as bad as junk foods. These foods are often described or labeled with “healthy” keywords or names. Some examples include packaged veggie chips, organic candy, and calorie-free cooking spray. Watch out for ingredients that sound healthier than they actually are. Agave nectar, for example, is often described to have a low-glycemic index but contains only carbohydrates and four calories for every gram. Aim for foods that are the least processed like veggie platters served with homemade hummus, salsa or guacamole, fruit and cheese platters, and homemade roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Quality of calorie matters!
The type of calories you consume DO matter. Don’t just focus on low-calorie items like diet sodas and sugar-free desserts. Consuming high-quality nutrients, like healthy fats, lean proteins, and high fiber carbohydrates, like vegetables, can keep you satisfied and prevent you from scrounging for the next little munchie. Fill half of your plate with vegetables, add lean protein like turkey, and include a source of healthy fats like a homemade olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette or a yogurt dip for your veggie platters!
- Eat what you love, not what you like.
You don’t just date someone you have lukewarm feelings for, so why would you eat something that you feel indifferent about? Choose foods that you love and are worth your calories. I always like to use the three-bite dessert rule. The first three bites of your favorite foods often taste the best. After that, each bite won’t taste as good as the first. The three-bite rule also encourages us to savor our food rather than mindlessly eat.
- Don’t forget to sleep.
Good sleep and rest can prevent mindless snacking and eating throughout the day. When we don’t get restful sleep, our appetites increase because our hormones, ghrelin, and leptin, stimulate our appetites. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule and avoid sleeping too late or too little.
- Keep a regular schedule.
Holidays often mean sleeping in, sleeping late, skipping breakfast or having too many sugary foods. While food is an integral part of the holiday season, remember not to revolve your schedule around it. Even when you don’t have to go to work, aim to wake up, sleep and eat around the same times as you would if you were working. Also, avoid over-indulging daily and remember to keep a healthy diet!
- Maintain a healthy immune system and gut health.
A healthy diet can support your immune system. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help strengthen the immune system. In addition to fruit and vegetables, add gut-friendly foods like pickled vegetables, kombucha, probiotics, and high fiber foods or prebiotics. A 2012 study suggested that children who consumed two strains of probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum, were less likely to get sick when compared to children who did not consume these probiotics during a 3-month period.
Don’t let a pesky cold, upset stomach or fatigue ruin your holiday celebrations. One of the best ways to make the most of this festive season is to stay healthy! By staying hydrated, getting plenty of good quality rest, and eating a nutritious and balanced diet, you can maintain your health while spreading the holiday cheer!
Gigi Kwok-Hinsley, DrPH, M.S., R.D., is a Registered Dietitian with a Doctorate in Public Health in the Greater Los Angeles area specializing in nutrition and public health research with experience in adult weight management, school nutrition and health and wellness. Dr. Kwok-Hinsley completed her doctorate in public health at Loma Linda University School of Public Health with an emphasis in preventive care and health care management. She conducted research in bitter taste sensitivity as it relates to a patient’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Outside of work and school, she is actively involved in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
An avid runner and ball hockey player, Gigi also holds a deep understanding of the relationship between evidence-based nutrition and sports performance. With 7 marathons under her belt, Gigi qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2015.
In the past, Gigi held positions in clinical nutrition research at the Veteran Affairs Hospital – West Los Angeles and Kaiser Permanente in health education. She is also an adjunct professor at Mount San Antonio Community College in Los Angeles.
Beside working and running, Gigi enjoys cooking and baking for friends and family.
Gigi holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, San Diego and received her dietetics training from the Coordinated Dietetics Program at California State University, Los Angeles.