Tis the season; to do lists, cooking, shopping, guests, decorating, parties, blissy foods and crafted cocktails. How can we approach the holiday season with mindfulness, self-awareness, and intention to enjoy the moments all while supporting our physical and mental health? We asked Seema Bonney, MD to put together some holiday health tips that will leave you feeling energized and balanced. A healthy lifestyle is marathon not a sprint, small changes can make a big difference. So read through and find a few that may work for you. Our goal at the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center is to inspire and support you in living your best life. Live long, live strong. Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!
Real food is medicine! Incorporate more vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and lean protein
into your diet. Take stock of your processed food/sugar/packaged food intake, what can you
reduce or eliminate to kick start your health? Added sugar is the culprit behind weight gain,
chronic disease, and inflammation. Start a food journal to see what your sugar consumption
looks like and then create a plan to reduce it.
Meals rich in vegetables and fruits, lean protein and healthy fats will keep your blood sugar in
balance, while keeping you satiated. A balanced, regular meal schedule will prevent the hanger
feelings that often lead to sugary or salty carb cravings, helping you to say no to the Starbucks
Peppermint Mocha (grande 440 calories with 54 grams of sugar!).
Holiday treats are a joy, making cookies with the family, or enjoying some savory appetizers at a
cocktail party, we are not here to crash the party. However, you can create a game plan so that
it is not a free for all at the expense of your health and waistline. Being mindful about your
choices will help you strike the perfect balance.
Focus on hydration, aiming to drink 8-12 servings of water a day. Pick up an insulated water
bottle and bring it with you on all those shopping trips. We often confuse thirst for hunger.
Speaking of drinks, consider your alcoholic beverage intake, can you create boundaries or
limitations around consumption that will support you through the holidays and beyond?
Sipping on sparkling water during the holiday festivities is a great way to limit the alcohol
consumption, increase hydration and prevent those holiday hangovers.
With growing to do lists, we often find that we don’t have time for exercise. Aim for 30
minutes in the morning before the rush of the day. This is a great way to boost your mood and
productivity. Those feel-good endorphins will have you flying through your holiday tasks! Also
take advantage of the opportunities for more steps, grocery shopping, mall visits and small
business shopping is a great way to boost your step count. The goal is 7-10k steps a day. Any
increase is a plus!
The holidays can be a very stressful time, taking care of your mental health with daily
meditation or breathing exercises may be just what the doctor ordered. Just 10 minutes a day
can make a difference. A simple meditation technique. 1) Find a quiet and comfortable
location, 2) Close your eyes and settle in 3) Notice your breath, in and out 4) As your mind
wanders, notice, and accept the thought and return to the breath 5) continue for 5- 10 minutes.
Sleep is critical for overall health, when we don’t sleep well, we create stress for the body which
can impact our hormones and create cravings and weight issues. Try to stick to your natural
circadian rhythm, wake and go to bed at the same time each day and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep.
Early morning sunshine and getting outside during the day can help regulate your sleep. Avoid
surfing the internet for the holiday bargains just before bed, the light from your phone or
laptop can interrupt your melatonin levels making it tougher to fall asleep. Create a nighttime
routine that is supportive of healthy sleep.
We talked about exercise, stress management, and eating well all of which support self-care. It
is still important to check in with yourself, get support from family, delegate to others. You
don’t have to do it all and shouldn’t be expected to. Take the time to go for a walk, escape the
company, the to-do lists, get a massage, mani-pedi, meditate or anything else that helps you
feel centered and balanced.
Preparing and planning for your healthy holiday season will help bring on a healthy and happy
new year without the need for new year’s resolutions. More importantly, you will have given
yourself the best gift of all, a lifestyle focused on optimal health and longevity!
Follow on Instagram @seemabonneymd for more health and wellness tips, Bryn Mawr's local health expert!