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The holiday season, give yourself the gift of health

Regular exercise, as well as maintaining a healthy diet and body weight, are key factors to staying healthy. However, amid the festive gatherings, the abundance of goodies and the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is very easy for these aspects of our health to get off track. 

Most adults gain weight over the holiday season, and although the average magnitude of weight gain is small (usually only 1 to 2 pounds), the majority of people never lose what they gained. Over the years, that holiday weight gain adds up! Here are some tips to keep your health on track this holiday season. 

PRIORITIZE EXERCISE

  1. Build exercise into your schedule. If you schedule exercise into your routine, you are more likely to stick with it. 
  2. Plan to exercise early in the morning, before work and other activities. In the morning, your will power is stronger than it is later in the day. Also, later in the day, you are more likely to get distracted by holiday parties, to-dos, etc. 
  3. Be flexible. Don’t have an all-or-nothing attitude. If something comes up, modify your workout. Can’t go to the gym? Do something at home like pushups, squats or a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Don’t have a full 30 minutes? Do 15 minutes. Any workout is better than none. If you missed your workout today, forgive yourself and get back on track tomorrow. 

BE MINDFUL OF CALORIC INTAKE

  1. Don’t go to holiday parties on an empty stomach. Eat a protein-rich snack prior to the party. You will feel satisfied and be less likely to overindulge. 
  2. Drink plenty of water. We can confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking water helps us feel full and consume fewer calories as a result. 
  3. When not at holiday parties or gatherings, try to stick your normal diet and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. 
  4. Focus on portion size. You don’t need to sacrifice your favorite holiday dishes; just be mindful of your portions. 
  5. Eat slowly. The quicker we eat, the less time our body has to register fullness. It takes our brains about 20 minutes to recognize that we are full! So, wait a bit before getting the second serving. 
  6. Limit liquid calories. Alcoholic beverages and other calorie-rich beverages can contribute a significant number of calories to your holiday diet. In addition to the calories, overindulging in alcohol can increase your appetite, causing you to eat more. Alternate a glass of water or non-caloric beverage with alcoholic beverages. 

GET PLENTY OF SLEEP

Adequate sleep is essential to good health. Sleep deprivation, which is quite common during the holidays, can contribute to weight gain. When we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and exercise less. Additionally, lack of sleep has been linked to slower metabolism. Make it a priority to get adequate sleep — about eight hours per night for most adults. 

During this holiday season, be mindful of your diet, exercise habits and get plenty of sleep to give yourself the gift of health. 


Dr. Pamela Tuli is a hematologist-oncologist practicing with The Medical Oncology Group – Memorial Physician Clinics. She can be contacted at (228)-575-1234. 

Written by Dr. Pamela Tuli

Dr. Pamela Tuli is a hematologist-oncologist practicing with The Medical Oncology Group - Memorial Physician Clinics. She can be contacted at (228)-575-1234.

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