Holiday Health and Christmas Cheer

December- Christmas time! By this time of year, we are already well over a month into the holiday parties, family get-togethers, work functions, and festivities that go along with the holidays. If you haven’t noticed, your pants are starting to get snug, as food has been the center of ALL these functions. Did you know, according to research performed by Associated British Foods, the average person consumes an excess of 7,000 calories on Christmas Day ALONE? That is more than 3 times the recommended daily caloric intake for the average individual! I laugh because my dad literally uses a SERVING PLATTER as his dinner plate, claiming he can’t fit all the food he wants on a regular plate. Although it seems comical, I’m sure there are many other people out there with this same mentality.

So how do we keep our intake at bay? Not avoiding the food, but not overindulging? There are a few simple tricks that may not seem like much, but over the course of the day can really add up to saved calories!

On Christmas morning, Christmas Eve morning, or whichever day your family chooses to celebrate, the day usually starts quite early. Especially if there are children or grandchildren involved! I have heard countless times my parents or other relatives state “I’m not going to eat anything for breakfast because I don’t want to ruin Christmas dinner.” Don’t be one to make that mistake! Just because we know a large meal is looming, that doesn’t mean we can “fit” more in our stomach because we skip a meal hours prior. All the skipped meal is going to do is cause our blood sugar to drop, make us irritable, have a less enjoyable morning because our stomach is growling, and cause us to overindulge later on. Putting something on your stomach to get your body’s metabolism going in the morning is not going to take anything away from dinner, I promise.

Second, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. It is especially easy to mistake thirst for hunger, so sometimes we eat when we aren’t even hungry and in actuality, just thirsty. If you plan on drinking alcohol, make sure you drink additional water, as alcohol has a dehydrating effect on your body. Dehydration can come over someone very quickly, especially when drinking alcohol, and feeling hungover on Christmas isn’t on anyone’s to-do list.

Ah, the much-anticipated, but oh-so-dreaded dessert table. All of the traditional family desserts…pecan pies, divinity, triple layer chocolate cake, sweet potato pie, the list goes on and on. Now, I know this table is not going to be avoided entirely. I mean, come on, we are all only human, right? It’s okay! Indulge a little bit, but the key here is portion control. Instead of having a slice of every pie known to man, take a forkful here and there, or skip out on a few. This is increasingly important especially if you have some sort of issue regarding blood sugar, like hyperglycemia or diabetes.

After the plates are licked clean and the pants may (or may not have) popped a button, comes the time everyone typically kicks back and relaxes. However, now is the time to help yourself by getting up and moving. Especially if you have overeaten, going for a walk, throwing a football with the grandkids, or playing fetch with the dog will help aid digestion and burn some calories. Also, for people needing help with blood sugar regulation, exercising after a meal can significantly lower blood sugar levels.

The holidays are the best time of year for many families. All the Christmas cheer and wafting scents of food in the air, who couldn’t enjoy it? So, go on, enjoy the holidays, throw up a glass and cheers to another year of health and happiness!