Many are worried about over-indulging on the holidays due to the cornucopia of sweets, meats, and dishes literally called stuffing. The indulgence foods of the holidays are usually the foods doctors and dietitians are telling us to avoid. So how can we properly enjoy the holidays and stay healthy? The good news is that indulging a bit during the holiday season won’t have a negative impact on your long-term health… if you’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle throughout the year.

The bigger perspective

Your health is largely based on the things you do on a regular basis. One meal is not going to make or break your health. But indulging even a few times every week can be seen as regular over-indulgence.

When it comes to diet, a weekly view can be beneficial. Most of us are familiar with the 2,000 calories per day recommendation, which may or may not be right for you. But in this paradigm, we might miss how an indulgence one day can affect your goal of being healthy.

Let’s say you’re eating healthy getting 1,750 calories per day. In one week, you’d be eliminating 1,750 calories. A whole day’s worth! Now, if you indulge just one day to the tune of 3,000 calories you’ve undone almost the whole week’s worth. Indulge twice a week and now you’re over by 750 calories.

From a month’s view, a few indulgences are unlikely to mess up a healthy life style. For the holidays that means we shouldn’t worry to much. The key is not over-indulging the rest of the time.

Healthy non-holiday habits 

So what should your habits look like outside of holidays like Thanksgiving? Everyone is different, so there isn’t one diet and exercise program that works for everyone. But every plan should include some form of exercise and careful attention to what is being eaten.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a boring hour spent on the treadmill at the gym. It can be almost any activity that gets you moving. While some might enjoy running, you might enjoy playing basketball. Both are cardio exercises and beneficial to your health. Try swimming, walking, sports or any other activity that you enjoy. The best exercise is the one that you do.

Much like exercise, making your regular meals healthier doesn’t have to be boring. It can be fun and tasty! Where most people struggle is when they try a complicated diet with lots of restrictions on what they can eat. They end up struggling to make the difficult dishes or craving the things they can’t have. Instead, try a flexible approach and don’t try to make the switch all at once. New dishes will take time to learn, but there are some good web sites with easy dishes to add to your repertoire.

Getting started

If you’re looking to start changing some of your habits into healthier ones, Thanksgiving might not be the best day to start. But you don’t have to wait for a New Year’s resolution. After indulging this Thanksgiving, try adding a healthy habit like exercise or changing a bad habit like over-indulging. Start small, with one or two things, and by the time the New Year rolls around you will be already building towards a healthier lifestyle. You’ll also have earned an indulgence or two.