Health during the holidays

The holidays are a fun time of the year, but also an unhealthy one. It’s the time of year when the end of the semester makes life too hectic for exercise, when baked goods can be found around every corner, and holiday parties come with the unavoidable caveat of eating too much too quickly. You might enjoy the festivities that come with the season, but your body might not. This is the most difficult time of the year to make healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Between celebrations, the weather getting colder, and the constant desire to just curl up with a mug of hot cocoa and listen to Christmas music all day, the thought of health is more or less thrown out the frost-covered window. In light of this problem, here are a few ways to overcome the issue of health vs. holidays.

First, let’s talk overeating. This is one of the biggest holiday problems. We’re only human, after all, and the overabundance of food during this time of year is all too tempting. Before we know it, we’ve eaten our fill and then some. It starts with Thanksgiving—the exhausting eating marathon where you just can’t say no to Grandma, as she loads up your plate for the third time. The problem continues until the Christmas leftovers have been eaten. That means we’re looking at a solid month of Christmas cookies, candy canes, and holiday hors d’oeuvres wherever you go. So what’s a health-abiding Duhawk to do when faced with this situation? Answer: head into the holidays with a health-conscious game plan. When it comes to mealtime, half your plate should be fruits and veggies. Yes, it’s hard to do, but as long as you make a conscious effort to choose nature’s bounty over holiday treats, you’ll be miles ahead of your old habits.

When it comes to holiday treats, reaching for homemade items rather than store-bought ones isn’t always the best option. Just because it’s homemade doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Everything is good in moderation, and sweets are a great example of a food group that should be eaten in moderation. Also, beware the hors d’oeuvres—you can quickly fill up without realizing it.

Let’s move on to another holiday season mistake: drinking less water. Water is your best friend; in fact, human beings are composed of 60% dihydrogen monoxide. Drinking water is vitally important for optimal health. Unfortunately, when the weather starts changing and the temperature drops, we forget about drinking water. Once we’re not sweating as soon as much, our water consumption can decrease dramatically. It’s important to remember to drink your 64 ounces a day, even when the busy-ness of the holidays makes us forget. Also, many people consume diuretics like caffeine and alcohol over the holiday season that cause us to not absorb water (in the case of caffeine), and actually pull water from our cells (in the case of alcohol). So if you plan to consume either of these beverages, make sure you resupply your body with water as soon as possible.

A third area of concern during the holidays is lack of exercise. At this time of the year it’s getting cold and snowy outside, so it isn’t fun to exercise outside anymore. It’s also hard to find time to hit the gym during the busy-ness of the season. And—let’s face it—what sounds better: an hour-long sweat session on the bike, or spending a couple of hours curled up under a blanket watching the movie “Elf” with a steaming mug of cocoa? If you’re human, you’re probably predisposed to say the latter. Yeah, it’s hard to get out of the house to exercise, but the hardest step in a workout is the first step out the door. Just because you might not feel like working out, you might surprise yourself when you get to the gym. It’s not that bad once you work up the courage to leave your room. It’s easy to fall into the trap of staying home, resting, sleeping, and binge-watching Netflix after a hectic semester. For the sake of better health, you probably should consider spending some of your holidays at the gym.

The holidays can be an unhealthy time. With the proper mindset and game plan, you can overcome all the sources of poor health brought on by the nature of the season. So avoid overeating, drink more water, and make sure to devote some time to exercise. Your body will thank you in the form of endorphins, increased energy, and better health.

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