Maintaining health is a challenge that tends to be even more daunting during the holiday season. But there are a number of simple things you can incorporate into your daily life to give yourself the best chance of avoiding illness during this hectic time of year. Try to implement at least one as a good start.
Because this may be the only meal you’ll eat at home, you can create a good foundation for your nutritional needs.
- Smashed avocado on whole grain toast topped with a fried egg
- Your favorite fruit and hard-boiled eggs
- A Greek yogurt parfait with chopped nuts and fruit
- Leftovers from last night’s dinner
- Oatmeal mixed with fruit and nuts or nut butter.
Folks who eat breakfast tend to make healthier choices during the day and have better energy along with an improved mood, a great quality to have especially during stressful times.
It’s easy to not prioritize sleep when there is an increasing number of things that need to get done. Unfortunately, putting off sleep until after Christmas is a bad idea because you can’t “catch up.” Most adults need 7 or more hours of quality sleep each night. This repairs body systems repair and rids the brain of toxins. When you miss out on sleep, the body cannot function properly. The immune system may be compromised, making it easier for you to get sick. Sleep-deprived people also have a difficult time controlling blood sugar, which leads to weight gain.
Though there may be more “shoulds” these days, it’s a good idea to schedule time for doing things that make you happy. Bonus if the holiday season lights you up like a Christmas tree. Although the effects of happiness on the immune system are not completely understood, happy people tend to fight off colds and chest infections more effectively than their unhappy counterparts. They also tend to have healthy eating habits and stay physically active, which contribute to a strong immune system.
Add a vegetable
While eating an array of colorful vegetables is beneficial to health, there are days when it may be a struggle to get in even one serving. Office parties, gatherings with friends and special events often feature foods that are highly processed and loaded with sugar. Processed foods contain loads of preservatives, colorings and other additives that are hard to digest and tax the immune system. Consider making a plan to have a salad or other vegetable every day. Fruits are also filled with nutrients that support your immune system, so grab an apple on your way out the door. Remember that this is not about being perfect. It’s about doing just a little bit better.
Limit alcohol and sweets
Cocktails and cookies are everywhere, so what’s a person to do? Enjoy your favorite and don’t go overboard. Though alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it increases the likelihood that you’ll awaken in the middle of the night. Sugar can cause inflammation that upsets the immune response. When you’re consuming lots of cookies or other desserts, it also means you’re not getting the nutrients you need from those vegetables. Do your best to find a balance.
For good measure
Stay physically active, especially if you’re already in a fitness routine, to help relieve stress, improve sleep, boost immunity and minimize those holiday pounds. Online shopping is perfect to keep you away from crowds and germs. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Drink your water. Simplify your preparations so you can enjoy this time of year instead of feeling stressed. On the days when things don’t go as planned, think of one thing you can do to make the day better. Let go of perfection.
Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and health coach in Northwest Indiana. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at inkwellcoaching.com. Opinions expressed are the writer's.