In many cultures, the Holiday Season – revolves around the three Fs: fun, family and food. Whether it’s coquito or fried dumplings, holiday treats are delicious and pay homage to our cultures, but they are not always healthy. That’s why the holidays have a strong reputation of weight gain – public health studies have shown how from mid-November to January, adults on average gain about one pound, with this extra weight lingering throughout the year and into the next holiday season.
This means, that not only are you likely to gain weight during this holiday season, but it is even more difficult than normal to lose weight. Which is why, when New Year’s resolutions roll around, “losing weight” is always one of the most popular. But losing weight, especially just after a holiday season spent navigating landmines of unhealthy foods is difficult. Magically losing large amounts of weight on the first few days of January, is unrealistic and not healthy. Fortunately, weight management at the start of a New Year – much like the rest of the year – is best maneuvered through moderation.
With this in mind, here are five simple tips for starting off the New Year with a healthy mindset that will last throughout 2018.
- Watch what you drink – not just what you eat. We all know that it’s important to be mindful of what we eat, but did you know lots of calories sneak into our diets through what we drink? Sugary sodas, frozen cocktails and fatty coffee concoctions are all hundreds of calories that are sipped rather than chewed. When you’re thirsty grab water, or low calorie options like sugar-free iced tea. And while the amount of water you need depends on your body, keep in mind that the average adult should drink between 11 and 15 cups of water each day.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand. Snacking doesn’t need to be bad – and you should recognize and respond to your body when you’re hungry. But your best bet is to snack on fresh and healthy foods. Cut up raw fruit and vegetables to keep on hand for when you need a snack. An apple or baby carrots are a much better option than heading to a vending machine or a candy drawer.
- Turn exercise into a family activity. For many of us, spending time with family is a central part of the holiday season, which means we’d much rather spend time catching up than going to the gym. Mix in the complications of traveling and being away from home, and it’s pretty easy to fall out of your exercise routine. Instead of trying to jump into the next fad fitness head on, make exercise a priority for the whole family. Active games and regular walks are activities that the whole family can engage in, allowing you to both elevate your heart rate and spend time with the ones you love.
- Checkout the DASH Diet. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a simple health plan that focuses on eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables while limiting salt and sugar to reduce risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure and diabetes.
- Too often, people begin their New Years resolutions with ambitious weight loss plans that have no real staying power. The key to coming up with a health plan that will last throughout 2018 isn’t to suddenly cut out “bad” foods or ramp up your exercise. It’s about making the moderate lifestyle changes that make it easier to make healthy food choices and prioritize exercise from January to December.
Resolutions to be healthy – whether it’s eating better or exercising more – can be intimidating, but the New Year is as good a time as any to achieve this frequently set goal. Talk to your primary care provider for more tips and support on how to make 2018 your healthiest year yet.