Although the “holiday season” usually refers to the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years, it really started back at Halloween, when all that candy suddenly showed up in your house and workplace, making the season more of a marathon! Here, a few do’s and don’ts for going the distance in good health.
Do Choose Four Occasions Per Year to Splurge
A few times a year, occasions arise that are truly special: your birthday, Thanksgiving, an anniversary. These events are almost always celebrated with foods laden with sugar and saturated fat—things that make it delicious to most tastes but age your innards. Still, it’s OK four times a year. Go ahead and dive into the delicacies around you. Sharing your happiness over a meal is a fabulous and cherished part of life. But limit it to four occasions for the year.
Do Eat Fresh, Whole Food
Focus your holiday eating on finding and making world-class food (and by that I mean fresh, seasonal, delicious, and healthy). Try to stick to the RealAge: YOU On A Diet lifestyle. It’s difficult when the party isn’t at your own home, and you should give yourself permission to vary a little. For the most part, if you stick to food without the five felons—saturated fat, trans fats, added sugars, added syrups, and any grain but 100% whole grain—you are doing great. Yes, there’s lots of food around, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
Do Have Great, Safe Sex
During the busy holiday season, you may not think that finding time for sex is a priority. But sex is a great way of saying someone is special to you. Be sure you have only safe, mutually monogamous sex, but have a lot of it. Maybe you even want to try new positions, but only with someone who is really special to you.
Do Listen to the People Around You
You can’t eat fast if you’re engaged in a good conversation or even a bad one! After all, talking to the guests is the main purpose of these social events, right? You can even engage in more personal or devoted one-on-one conversation by taking a walk with someone.
Do Bring Your Own Dish
If you’re worried that the empty calories at an upcoming bash will age you, bring along a dish that you’ve made yourself. Bringing your own dish ensures that you’ll have something healthful to eat. Take a guacamole or salsa.
Do Alternate Between Wine and Water
Never drink two glasses of any alcoholic beverage in a row—alternate every glass of wine with one, preferably even two, glasses of water with lime.
Do Get Moving
Exercise before the party, or take a brisk walk or bike ride after a holiday meal and before dessert. Exercise not only burns some of those extra calories but also reduces the stress that comes with end-of-year festivities. But don’t use these strategies to allow yourself a lot of “special occasions.” Remember what I said about four special occasions for the year, and stick to it.
Don’t Give Yourself Permission to Overeat
The secret to staying young through the holidays isn’t so much what you eat (as long as you keep avoiding the five food felons) as how much you eat. Continuing to eat even though you’re full will make your RealAge® much older.
Don’t Get Caught Up In Mindless Eating
Scrap the mindless eating that is so easy to do during the holidays. Only eat stuff you put on a plate (nine inches or smaller). It’s easy to eat without thinking about it—to eat while you’re cooking and to snack while you’re catching up. All of these are subconscious eating habits. You won’t make errors or eat as mindlessly if you only eat from a plate. At stand–up parties, only carry a plate or wine glass in your left hand. Keep your right hand free to shake hands and talk.
Don’t Regain Lost Weight
During the holidays, keep a small notebook with you at all times. Write down everything you eat. This keeps you from eating subconsciously or absentmindedly. Also, writing your food down is a deterrent to snacking. It’s too much trouble to eat if you have to write it down every time. During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the 25 percent of people who had lost weight during the rest of the year—those who most consistently recorded every bite of food—lost an average of seven pounds, whereas the other 75 percent regained an average of three pounds.
Don’t Ditch the Basics
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you should give up the healthy habits you’ve been practicing (or trying to practice) all year. Get 8 hours of sleep each night. Know when that alarm needs to sound and get in bed at the right time. That way you’ll be rested and ready for the recommended 48 minutes of exercise you need to do every day.
Don’t Wait to Start Your New Year’s Resolutions
Make your New Year’s resolutions now and then start them Dec 26th (or sooner); don’t wait till New Year’s day to start living a healthier, younger and more satisfying life.