# December, 19, 2019

5 Tips for Healthy Holidays (That Are Still Fun)

When you hear people talk about staying healthy during the holidays, does the little voice inside your head whisper, “How much fun would that be?” Or maybe you start laying odds on whether you could ever resist that fabulous dessert buffet. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, we’re surrounded by temptation. This post offers five actionable tips to help you enjoy healthy holidays that are still fun.

1. Flex Your Moderation Muscles

Family gatherings. Fun get-togethers with friends. Workplace celebrations. The final two months of the year are jam-packed with temptations both sweet and savory.

The good news is that you can indulge in your holiday favorites without packing on the pounds. You just have to limit your indulgence to those celebrations and bacchanalias. That means adhering to a healthy lifestyle the rest of the time (e.g. lean proteins, lots of fruits and veggies, and daily exercise). This also helps ensure you don’t gain any new bad habits. (Why is gaining a bad habit so much easier than losing it?)

It also helps to approach temptations strategically. What are your true holiday favorites, the dishes you don’t get the rest of the year? Splurge on those first. Also, take a minute to peruse your options, particularly at a buffet.

Speaking of a buffet, consider changing the order in which you load your plate. Most people go protein, starch, veggie. That makes sense, since the food is usually laid out that way. If you can, though, fill half your plate with veggies first. Then split the remaining half between protein and starches. You’ll automatically eat fewer calories, which leaves you more in the bank for the fun stuff, i.e. dessert. You’re welcome.

2. Stay Physically Active

If there is ever a time you need to make sticking to your exercise routine a priority, it’s holiday time. First, of course, is working off all those indulgences listed above. But a close second is sweating out all the stress the holidays are famous for.

Healthy holidays exercise in your hotel

Even if you travel a lot, you can still stay physically active. Of course, if you belong to a national gym, it’s super simple. But you still have options:

  • Go to a local gym and get a guest pass
  • Browse YouTube for workouts – you’ll find aerobic, yoga, Zumba, and more
  • Create a circuit routine in your room with some old-fashioned exercises like lunges, squats, planks, pushups, crunches, leg raises, and tricep dips using a chair
  • If you stay in a hotel, look for one that offers a gym

And, of course, you can take a walk or a go for a run anywhere.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Spiked eggnog. Hot toddies. Mulled wine. Rum punch. If you drink alcohol, you definitely aren’t short on opportunity this time of year. Of course, you’ve probably also paid the price the next day – at least once, anyway.

In case you didn’t know it, the main cause of hangovers is dehydration. By drinking plenty of water, you lower your risk of hangover and take in a lot fewer calories. Win-win!

The easiest way to do this is to start hydrating BEFORE the party. Then, alternate between water and alcohol. Your goal is one glass or bottle of water for every “fun” drink. And limit alcoholic beverages to two per hour, max.

4. Portion Control Can Be Fun

We know we said this list would allow you to enjoy healthy holidays that are still fun, but portion control can actually accomplish both goals.

First, familiarize yourself with what constitutes a serving size. (Hint: It’s likely way smaller than you think.) Sticking to smaller portions lets you enjoy more of the things you like – not less. For example, instead of one large slice of pie, you can have two or even three small slices. And as a bonus, you won’t have to decide between pecan and apple.

Next, eat more slowly. Take small bites and set down your fork while chewing. Then, pay attention to what you’re eating and really taste it. You’ll enjoy it more, satisfy the craving, and actually notice when you feel full instead of overeating.

Healthy holidays

5. Don’t Ignore Your Mental Health

There are so many reasons you may feel more stressed during the holidays.

  • Travel
  • Family you rarely see (and prefer it that way)
  • Extra-strength to-do list (shopping, extra cooking and cleaning, wrapping gifts, etc.)

Stress may even cause you to overeat, since it causes your body to release cortisol. This is the hormone that causes you to crave “comfort food” when you feel overwhelmed.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to manage stress. Start by taking time for yourself every day. Even 15 minutes of “me” time helps your mind and body recharge. Other ideas (you can choose more than one):

  • Meditation
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Read a book
  • Going for a walk
  • Write in your journal
  • Set boundaries and say “No” when you need to

You can also literally just breathe. Intentional breathing takes only a moment but it makes a huge difference in stress levels. Simply inhale for four seconds, hold for one second, and exhale for four seconds. It takes only a few breaths to feel markedly more calm.

Talk to Your Doctor

Medicare Part B covers a yearly wellness exam at no cost to you. Take advantage of this benefit to talk to your doctor about healthy lifestyle changes you can make regarding diet and exercise. And if you’re ready to compare your Medicare plan options, our Find a Plan tool makes it easy. Just enter your location, coverage start date, and hit Continue to get started.

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Donna Frederick

After retiring from a career as an executive travel counselor in 2006, Donna Frederick embarked on a second career as a licensed insurance agent. During that first year, many clients told Donna how overwhelmed they felt by Medicare, but that her assistance helped them finally understand the Medicare program. That experience inspired Donna to focus her efforts on educating her clients to ensure they fully understand their Medicare options. Today, Donna takes pride in providing outstanding customer service and going the extra mile to make sure each client knows all of their options and has a sound understanding of their Medicare plan, from costs to coverage and all points in between.

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Last Updated 12/21/2018