UT Dallas Magazine

Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

12.11.2019

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays bring cold weather, more food and extra stress – a combination that often leads to unhealthy nutrition choices. Holiday weight gain is a common occurrence, but it can be avoided.

Taylor Tran, registered dietitian and employee health program manager at The University of Texas at Dallas, offers these tips to avoid adding on those extra pounds through the season.

    • Plan ahead. Instead of starving yourself and then filling up on high-calorie, high-fat foods at parties, take the edge off your hunger by eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods beforehand. If you’re hosting, serve a few healthy alternatives.

 

    • Be mindful. Stick to healthy portions. Don’t eat more just because it is there.

 

    • Socialize. Shift your focus to conversation instead of food. Spend time with family or friends, and focus on socializing, not eating.

 

    • Stay hydrated. Limit alcohol and drink plenty of water. The relaxing effect of alcohol may make it hard to stick to your eating plan, and liquor is packed with empty calories.

 

  • Get moving. Every little bit helps. This doesn’t mean you need to spend more time at the gym. Just squeeze in activity whenever you can.

“It takes a little pre-planning to stay on course, but you’ll feel so much better and have more energy in the new year if you are mindful about what you eat during the holidays,” Tran said.

How to Keep Your Body and Mind Healthy

Changeable weather and holiday stress can lead to a greater likelihood of getting sick. Dr. Lea Aubrey, director of the Student Health Center at The University of Texas at Dallas, offers a few suggestions to help you stay healthy through the holiday season.

    • Stay warm. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Stay dry and dress warmly in several layers.

 

    • Get enough sleep. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night.

 

    • Stay active. At gatherings, round up some family and friends for a walk.

 

    • Practice fire safety. Most house fires happen during the winter months. Don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters or candles unattended.

 

  • Avoid injuries. Use step stools instead of climbing on furniture when hanging decorations. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.

“We often forget to take care of ourselves in busy seasons, but the holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health,” Aubrey said. “Keep your commitments in check, and balance work, home and play. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook.”

–Robin Russell