Heart Health AwarenessJanuary 12, 2023
February is American Heart MonthFebruary 2, 2024
The best ways to prevent most chronic diseases are to eat healthy, be physically active, and avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use. The holidays can make it hard to stick to these healthy practices or start new ones. But with a little planning, you can approach the busiest time of the year with some strategies to stay on track.
1.) Take time to eat well!
Eating healthy during the holidays can be tough. Here are some tips to make your holiday a healthy one:
- Prioritize a healthy breakfast. Aim for 30 grams of protein to start your day with more energy, and to remain properly satiated throughout the day. Add in veggies for an easy fiber boost as well!
- Make fruits and vegetables part of your normal holiday plate.
- Choose better options when preparing your food. Opt for baking instead of frying in oil. Use avocado or olive oil in place of vegetable oils to get in healthy fats.
- Hydrate! It’s easy to forget to drink water when you’re busy. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. Try coconut water or adding a pinch of sea salt and lemon into your normal water to boost hydration.
2.) Get active and make it fun!
Planning your workouts ahead of time will help you be successful. Many of the holiday parties and dinners take place in the evening, so set aside time each morning to go for a run, hit the gym, or take part in online fitness classes at home.
Don’t be afraid to shorten workouts. Go for a 20-minute run before work, then stop by the gym for 20 minutes of weights on the way home. Some movement is better than none.
Involve your family and friends. Registering for a race keeps you accountable to your fitness goals and is another easy way to have holiday fun with family and friends. Get your group matching Santa hats, reindeer antler headbands, or decorative leggings to laugh your way through a 5k.
3.) Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol intake.
It’s never too late to quit smoking, and your family and friends can help. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits and can also protect the health of your loved ones.
Alcohol has tons of hidden sugar and excess calories. Drinking less matters for your immediate safety and long-term health. Choose not to drink, or drink in moderation by limiting yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman—two if you’re a man—on the days that you drink.
4.) Self-care matters.
A hectic holiday schedule, with frequent travel or many social obligations to fulfill, can lead to exhaustion and a lack of sleep, which increases stress. There can also be pressure to wrap things up at school or work during this time. Some people turn to unhealthy coping strategies, such as disordered eating or using substances, to handle these feelings, often making them worse.
It is always important to prioritize your emotional health and well-being. Remember to take time for self-care and ensure that you are getting enough sleep, exercise, and nutritious foods. It’s okay to take a break from—or say no to—social gatherings, make time for hobbies you enjoy, and connect with what is most important to you about the holidays.