Taking Care of You This Holiday Season

Melissa Cotton, MPH County Engagement Specialist in Nutrition and Health Education

The holidays are upon us. It is a time of celebration and gathering of friends and family. However, for many it can also be a time of stress, overeating, and discomfort. Taking care of yourself is of utmost importance during this time of year. Let it truly be a time of giving – to yourself and to others. Here are some strategies to help ensure a healthy and happy holiday season.

Stay Hydrated – Our body needs water to perform and feel its best. Stay hydrated by drinking 6-8 glasses of water each day. Proper hydration will aid in digestion and help you feel fuller, longer. If you are at a gathering and can’t seem to stop nibbling, try occupying yourself with a glass of water or other low-calorie beverage.

Practice Mindful Eating - To be a more mindful eater you must pay attention to what you eat, why you eat, and how you think and feel about your food. Slow down while you chew and limit distractions like your phone or television. At a party, give yourself permission to have the foods you really want, but take the time to actually enjoy them. You may find you are satisfied with just a few bites.

Make Your Plate like MyPlate – As often as you can, make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Choose whole-grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. These healthy items will help you feel full and keep your cravings at a manageable level. Eating healthy can also help improve your mood and energy levels.

Keep Moving – Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity most days. If you are feeling especially food focused, getting outside and going for a walk can be a great way to end the grazing. Invite someone to play catch or a pick-up game of basketball. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you are moving your body in a way that you enjoy. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for physical and mental health.

Make Sleep a Priority - Sleep helps our body and our mind to recover and renew. Getting adequate sleep is also tied to lower daily caloric intake. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. For best results try to go to bed and wake up about the same time every day, even on the weekend.

If you do overeat during the holiday festivities, don’t give up. Try to squeeze in a little extra activity and make sure you get plenty of water. It takes several days of overeating to gain weight. Once or twice will not derail your efforts. It is important to avoid feelings of guilt, as this can often lead to binge eating. Instead, prepare to get back on track the next day or at the next meal.  

For more information, contact the Cass County University of Missouri Extension Center or reaching out directly to Melissa Cotton at cottonmr@missouri.edu or 816-380-8461.