6 Lifestyle Hacks to Stay Healthy Even After the Holidays

3 Mins
December 22, 2016

Hello! I am Bezalel Adainoo, the author of Stay Well Now. My friends call me Bez. As a professional food scientist, I have been asked many questions by people from different walks of life seeking the right information on what food to eat and how that will affect their health.

Christmas is here again! The holidays come with great joy and in most times, unfettered celebration. The euphoria that accompanies this great season often comes with some unhealthy eating habits for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s because there’s food in abundance, other times, it is simply because you tend to be eating together in different parties more often. But should you really change from being conscious about what you eat to having a carefree attitude towards food because of the holidays? Statistics show that the average person gains between 0.8kg and 1kg often around the abdomen during Christmas holidays; weight that is rarely lost. According to a study conducted in the US, this gain in weight also contributes to an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and body fats. Weight gain, increase in blood pressure, heart rate and body fats all have a direct link to an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases like diabetes. Here are six things to do to ensure you don’t stand an increased risk for the diseases mentioned above.

1. Your eating and fitness goals must remain

If you really want to eat healthy, you must be willing to go every inch of the way to ensure that the food and how much of it you’re putting into your body is healthy. Your healthy eating or fitness goals shouldn’t end when the celebration begins. It is not bad to celebrate but you have to be mindful how you celebrate especially with respect to the food you eat.

2. Don’t go to parties hungry

Because there’s often abundance of food and you are in a company of people eating and feasting, there’s a good chance you will eat more than you normally eat if you go to the party hungry. It has been found that people hungry tend to eat 50% more calories at parties than they normally eat at home. Because very often at parties there are lots of high-calorie snacks; cakes, ice-creams, toffees, sugary beverages, etc. Snacking on such foods would contribute significantly to your caloric intake even though the foods may seem small in size. This could affect your health negatively in so many ways even after the holidays. The right thing to do is to eat some food before you go to the party. This will minimize your chances of overeating and snacking on calorie-dense foods.

3. Gain control of portion sizes

For the reason of celebration, some people will often eat more food. It is very important to have control over the quantities of food you eat especially in this season. In order to achieve this, use a smaller plate to help limit the amount of food you eat. This is essential because since you may be eating in a company of people who are also celebrating this season there’s a high probability of getting carried away by the excitement, hence eating more so if you don’t control your portion sizes, you may end up eating larger portions that would contribute to weight gain.

4. Fill up right

During this season, you need to fill up with vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruits. The reason for this is that these foods contain a good amount of fibre which will make you full quickly for longer while not eating much as well as allow the body to gradually take up the sugar from the breakdown of the food and significantly reducing chances of weight gain. Also, the fibre could help control your blood cholesterol level. Watching your intake of highly refined carbohydrates (examples include cakes, pies, ice-creams, sugary beverages, etc.)  is critical; such foods have very little to no fibre so you tend to eat more and since they are calorie-dense you could end up gaining weight or having high blood sugar level if you don’t burn the calories through exercises. The benefits of fibre consumption would play a key role in ensuring you don’t gain weight or have a high blood sugar level safeguarding your health this yuletide.

5. Limit salt, fats, and alcohol

in this period, sugar, salt, fats and alcohol are often the most consumed. As mentioned in the above point, you need to control your intake of sugar and highly refined carbohydrates. Salt is next on the list. It is very important to limit salt, fats and alcohol. Too much salt could result in a high blood pressure. Too much fats could lead to heart-related diseases. Alcohol consumption could lead to nutritional deficiencies, high blood pressure, heart-related diseases, liver diseases, etc. Don’t get carried away in the excitement of the moment to eat more salt, fats and/or alcohol.

6. Exercise

It is a season of celebration but the celebration should not stifle the importance of your health. It is not wrong to hit the gym these holidays or go for a run this yuletide or exercise with your own custom exercise routine this season. Exercising would help you burn calories hence reducing your chance of gaining weight or having diseases associated with uncontrolled eating.

In a study, it was found that in Ghana, more people are becoming obese. Even though obesity is not reached in a day or a couple of days, holiday food habits and lifestyle patterns contribute to it. Most of these people who are obese are from the urban areas…and that’s where most of the holiday feasting happens most of the time. Remember weight gained during these holidays are often the most difficult to get rid of so hold on to your fitness goals even in this season, control your portion sizes, fill up your stomach the right way, control your intake of salt, sugar and alcohol and continue to exercise. Have a great holiday.

How will you spend the holidays to stay fit? Share your thoughts with us.