Holiday Healthy Habits
For many of us, the holiday season is an opportunity to enjoy one last hurrah before cracking down on our nutrition goals in the new year. However, these dramatic changes in our eating habits can put additional strain on our bodies and often leave us feeling even worse. We’ve put together these tips and tricks to help you navigate some of the challenges of the holiday season.
Making sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of fiber is essential to supporting our digestion throughout the holidays. Fiber not only promotes bowel regularity, it also assists in maintaining healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which can be especially important with all the holiday cookies we’re enjoying! According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adults should aim to consume 25-35 grams of fiber every day. In order to feel the greatest benefit, it’s important to eat a variety of high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, etc), nuts, and seeds. Consider adding a veggie tray, bean dip, and whole grain crackers to your holiday gatherings this year for an extra fiber boost. Or, bring a plate of our delicious Black Bean Brownies and watch as they become the star of the party!
Sugar can be especially challenging during the holidays. From hot cocoa to your favorite family cookie recipes, sweet treats seem to be available at every turn. But some savory foods can also cause significant blood sugar spikes that can be especially dangerous for individuals managing diabetes. Processed, simple carbohydrates found in foods like white bread, white rice, and most packaged chips, cookies, and pastries, as well as starchy foods like potatoes and bagels, all can create a spike in blood pressure. Choosing whole grain alternatives whenever possible is the simplest way to minimize that impact.
Sleep is another essential component to staying healthy through the holiday season. As challenging as it may be, making an effort to sleep for at least 7-9 hours every night can significantly improve our mood, memory function, and even appetite. When we are sleep-deprived, our bodies try to overcompensate by increasing our appetites, specifically giving us a craving for sugar. While sugary foods can often give us a short burst of energy, we usually crash within a few hours and are left feeling even more exhausted. Limiting caffeine and screen time before bed and sticking to a consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule can help us build healthier sleep habits over time.
If you’re looking for more tips and support in meeting your wellness goals in 2024, check out our January Wellness Challenge series classes! This free five week series is the perfect opportunity to stay on track in your goals and build community with other participants. Click here to register and find more information.
By: Emily Menshew, Nutrition Education Associate