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Hacks for a Healthier Holiday Season

min read

By Emily Lockhart

The holidays are filled with indulgences. We stay inside more, we drink more, we eat more, and we have to wear stretchy pants WAY more often. The stretch between mid-December and the New Year can throw any well-meaning fitness or healthy eating regimen off track fairly quickly.

Implement these eight holiday hacks for a healthier winter season…

 

1. Blast Stress with Magnesium

According to research from Psychology Today, most North Americans are largely magnesium deficient. Unless your diet is rich in seafood, organ meat, and mineral water your magnesium levels can suffer—and your brain often reaps the consequences.

Magnesium is largely responsible for muscles contraction and nerve signals to the brain. However, when levels are low, stress (especially during the holidays) can lead to anxiety and even depression. If stress is getting to you during the winter season, take a magnesium supplement to balance mineral levels.

Christmas Stress

2. Cinnamon Spice Keep Blood Sugar Nice

If you’re looking for a lighter-calorie method for sweetening your eggnog, coffee, or even your baking, turn to Ceylon cinnamon spice. Numerous studies quoted by WebMD link cinnamon to reduced blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Many of these studies claim that cinnamon is able to curb blood sugar by lowering insulin resistance. One such study monitored the effects of consuming cinnamon on a group of volunteers. Findings showed that those who consumed 6-grams of cinnamon daily, for 40 days lowered blood sugar levels by roughly 24-percent.

cinnamon

3. Bye, Bye Butter

In addition to refined sugar in cookies, cakes, pies, and candy adding to your waistline—butter runs rampant in holiday everything, from baked goods to side dishes.

The good news is that holiday cookies, cakes, muffins, and even mashed potatoes can taste just a yummy whipped with lower fat alternatives. For lower fat baking substitute butter with applesauce, coconut oil, or avocado, and swap butter or margarine in side dishes for extra-virgin olive oil or Greek yogurt.

shutterstock_223557445

4. Fibre Up!

If you tend to approach every holiday feast and potluck ravenous, take a cue from the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), and eat a small fibrous snack prior to your dining experience.

CDA research suggests that fibre works to slow down the digestion of food. This means that eating a high fibre snack prior to those holiday treats will prevent blood glucose (sugar) from spiking, and the inevitable gorging that follows.

Entertaining Holidays

5. Walk Away from Seasonal Flu

Exercise and immunity are closely linked. In fact, several National Institutes of Health studies recommend walking for 20- to 30-minutes per day in order to ward off illness.

If you happen to be plagued by repeat winter colds and flu, exercise will be your immune-boosting ally this winter. Walking, or any form of moderate to intense exercise, increased body temperature, eradicating bacteria and preventing bacteria serious seasonal infections.

Go For A Walk

6. Banish Dry Winter Skin

Has Jack Frost already been nipping at your nose this winter? I tend to experience winter chaffing and dryness in the areas of my nose and upper lip—due to a mix of wicked winter wind and blowing my nose.

To banish dry winter skin, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds) or take an essential fatty acid supplement. The natural oils will work to hydrate skin and ease painful inflammation.

cold

7. Cut Cocktail Calories

It’s difficult to resist a creamy glass of eggnog at Christmas and a glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve. Between mid-December and NYE it seems like we’re literally toasting our way through winter—throwing back one high calorie cocktail at a time.

It’s the sneaky liquid calories in cocktails that are difficult to keep track of. However, you can remain the life of the holiday party by swapping creamy, sugar-riddled beverages for those mixed with zero calorie club soda and fresh fruit.

cocktails 7

8. Rest Prior to Feasting

You wouldn’t dream of snoozing through Christmas dinner. However, studies show that grabbing a few hours of shut-eye prior to the big feast will ensure you consume far less fat and calories.

In fact, a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that lack of sleep actually promotes binge eating to the tune of an excess of almost 500 calories per day. On the other hand, sneaking in a 10-minute nap between the hours of 1pm and 3pm will ensure you come to dinner refreshed and less likely to overeat.

Man Napping

Emily Lockhart

Contributor

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.

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