It might be December but here’s why you should pretend it’s January 1
Think about what would happen if healthy habits didn’t apply during the holidays: Once Halloween rolled around, you might not get back on track again until New Year’s. That’s two months -- a sixth of the year. Could add up to a pretty big hole to then have to dig out of.
Instead, it might make more sense to look ahead to January 1, and get going on healthy resolutions now. Of course, we all recognize that the holidays present extra challenges in sticking to the best laid plans. So this year, I’m sharing my best tips from holidays past and present, to inspire a healthy future.
First up? Food! Here’s how to indulge healthily:
- Reduce alcohol intake by alternating every serving of alcohol with a glass of water. Alcohol is a big source of empty calories – and next day headaches -- and this strategy will cut your alcohol and calorie intake by half, while improving hydration.
- Slow down. Sit down, chew slowly and enjoy it. You may find you’ll be completely satisfied with a smaller amount.
- Adjust your plate. Make extra room for fruits, salads and vegetables, and less room for higher calorie items.
- Be picky. Not every dessert or treat is worth eating. Focus on choosing only those things that you find truly pleasurable.
- Pre-load. I’m mindful of what I eat before the big meal. If possible I stick with fruits and fresh veggies. If I’m headed to someone else’s house, and I’m not certain of their traditions, I offer to bring a platter of these to share.
- Replenish. Use your breakfasts and snacks as antioxidant replenishing opportunities. Step One’s Strawberry Banana Smoothie has the most antioxidants of all our products – and it’s my choice for breakfast or snack on days when rich meals are inevitable.
- Plan healthy ways to indulge. Eating real food, not too much, mostly plants is always the right answer, but consuming colder weather favorites such as cheese, chocolate, red wine and even meat is possible on a heart healthy diet so long as portions are reasonable.
- Remember that eating healthy isn’t one big choice. It’s a series of small, smart choices. Look at what happens when you replace that Pumpkin Spice Latte or Snickers bar with Step One Foods.
- Spice it up. Rich meals generate free radicals inside our bodies, inducing inflammation which can thicken our blood, make cholesterol more toxic, and reduce the ability of our arteries to dilate. But spices can serve as powerful antioxidants that blunt the generation of free radicals and all their downstream consequences. Especially effective AND seasonal? Cloves, ginger, rosemary, sage, cumin, turmeric and paprika.
Next, some advice on keeping holiday stress in check:
- Don't beat yourself up if you do overindulge. Simply start fresh the next day. Food effects are cumulative. One bad day is not going to be a make or break if it's followed by a bunch of good days.
- Make time for yourself, every day. Even going for a short walk and taking a few deep breaths can make all the difference in the world.
- Skip the scale. Focus on health, not weight. After all, you’re in this to live a longer and healthier life - and if you do that, the weight will take care of itself.
That's a lot of advice, but you don't have to do everything to see success. If you follow even some of these tips, you'll have a giant head start one month from today as you ring in the New Year!
Get heart health tips and articles like this, delivered right to your email.
New articles every week.