holiday health

Keep the “Healthy” in Your Holidays

It’s that time of year again—when holiday and Super Bowl parties, the winter chill, and overbooked schedules come between you and your healthy lifestyle. With some effort and planning, you can stay committed to your healthy habits, maintain your weight, and be on top of your game as you start the new year.

The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight are worth the effort. Overweight and obesity, which affect 73 percent of adult men in the United States, increase the risk for a number of serious illnesses, including heart disease—the leading cause of death in men—type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

Eating Healthy

Whether you’re watching the game with friends or toasting coworkers at your end-of-year party, you can keep yourself from overindulging. Here are some things you can try:

  • Bring something healthy to the party. Shake things up by bringing an alternative to nachos and buffalo wings. Spicy chicken skewers or a plate of grilled vegetables are just a couple of options. For healthy recipe ideas, check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s What’s Cooking? site.
  • Don’t go out to celebrate hungry. Chances are you’ll overeat if you head out to a party on an empty stomach. Have an apple or another small snack before your event.
  • Go easy on the alcohol. Do you know how much is too much? For most men, moderate drinking is having up to two drinks a day. A standard drink is
    • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5 percent alcohol
    • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12 percent alcohol
    • 5 ounces, or a “shot,” of distilled spirits or liquor such as vodka, rum, or whiskey, which contain about 40 percent alcohol

Water is a good alternative to punch, soda, and juice with added sugars, as well as cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 call for drinking alcohol in moderation and getting less than 10 percent of your daily calories from added sugar.

  • Curb your sweet tooth. It may be hard to resist the holiday treats, but you don’t have to back off completely. Choose something special that you only have this time of year and then have a small amount. If it’s pumpkin pie you crave, have a small slice, and pass on the whipped cream or ice cream topping.

Staying Active

Your physical activity routine may be one of the first things to go when you’re pressed for time. But staying active during the holiday season is important, especially if you may be eating more than usual or feeling more stressed. Together with healthy eating, getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week may help you maintain a healthy weight. Try to:

  • Limit screen time. More than 2 hours of TV-watching or web-surfing a day has been linked to overweight and obesity. If you have the game on, get up during commercials or half time and take the dog out or throw a football around. Pull family and friends away from the video games and electronic devices, and take a walk or hike.
  • Break up your activity. If you can’t squeeze in that evening run, work short spurts of activity into your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther from the entrance, and take a couple of 10-minute walks at work if possible.
  • Brave the outdoors. Got snow? Bundle up and build a snowman, clear steps or shovel out the car, go sledding, have a snowball fight, or take a hike. Be mindful of how much time you spend outside to avoid frostbite or other problems related to the cold.

Adults with Disabilities
Adults of all shapes, fitness levels, and abilities can benefit from being physically active, including those with disabilities. If you have a physical disability and are able to be active, try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a week. From brisk walking to wheelchair aerobics or basketball, try activities, according to your ability, that you enjoy and are likely to stick with. Include activities to build strong muscles, such as working with resistance bands.

Sticking with It

If you find yourself getting derailed, don’t give up: just try to get back on track the following day. Focus more on spending time with family and friends, and less on eating, drinking, and worrying about getting everything done—especially if it comes at the expense of getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the risk of weight gain. Adults typically need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

View posts by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Written on behalf of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). For evidence-based information about managing your weight all year long, as well as information about diabetes, kidney disease, and related health issues, visit the NIDDK website and follow NIDDK on Facebook and Twitter.

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