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Healthy Holiday Cheat Sheet by Deanna Robinson, Health and Fitness Expert and Holistic Nutritionist 

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!—Football, feasts and fetes! But it’s also the weightiest time of the year. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American's weight increases by 0.4% over Christmas, and 0.2% over Thanksgiving. In total, this amounts to around one pound gained during the holiday season. It doesn’t sound like much, until you gain that extra pound year after year, not including any additional weight you may have gained throughout the year. The last few months of the year can be a challenge for even the most disciplined person. But these healthy holiday tips will have even Santa tightening his belt.

Juice up. Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables can be a great way to get in all your vitamins and nutrients without all of the calories. Planning on going to a holiday party at night? Replacing breakfast with a nutritional juice or a smoothie may keep your daily calorie limit in check. Here are some healthy juice combos you can try:

-Spinach, Cucumber, Celery, Lemon, Ginger, and Apple

-Beets, Carrots, Lemon, Ginger, and Apple

-Carrots, Oranges, and Ginger

Blend a smoothie. A smoothie makes a perfect nutritional mini-meal before heading out to a holiday party. If you drink a smoothie before, you’re less hungry and less likely to splurge on all the unhealthy party options. Here’s a quick and delicious smoothie to blend up: Combine 1 frozen peeled banana, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon of almond butter, and 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract (optional) in a blender, and puree until smooth.

Be a food snob. Be picky about your indulgences. Over the holidays people tend to eat food just because it’s there. Opt for a small slice of mama’s delicious sweet potato pie and leave out the mundane snack pack of cookies.

Fill up on fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient that can make you feel fuller longer. Feeling full is a great way to avoid unhealthy holiday calories.

Go to bed. Late night partying, eating, and drinking can really affect your sleep pattern and quality. When you don't sleep enough, your cortisol levels rise. This is the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain. Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night; and if that seems impossible for you, daytime naps count!

Limit liquid calories but fill up on H2O. Juices, sodas, and alcohol can contribute lots of sugar and empty calories. Water, it is! You should drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. One handy trick is to buy a gallon water jug, fill up as much as you need in the morning, and sip it throughout the day until you’ve finished it that night.

Take time for self-care. Make YOU a priority during this holiday season. Consider ways to reduce stress and manage your emotions by taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. This may include talking to a trusted friend, meditating, exercising, getting a massage, treating yourself to a holiday gift or just getting outside for some sunlight.

This holiday season, look for opportunities to make healthy choices! Small choices really can make big changes that lead to an end of the year WIN. While it’s okay to indulge in moderation, the more unhealthy food you eat over the holidays, the more your body is going to pay the price. May peace, joy, love, happiness and healthiness be yours this holiday season!

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