Many worry they will spoil their diet over the holidays. Thanksgiving is definitely an over-indulging holiday due to the cornucopia of sweets, meats, and dishes literally called stuffing. 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 likely spoil your long-term health… if you’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. It’s hard to spoil something that’s already rotten. Conversely, a cheat day here or there won’t ruin a healthy lifestyle.
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 spoiling yourself even a few times a week might be over doing it.
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 250 calories per day or 1,750 calories total. 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 lifestyle. For the holidays that means we shouldn’t worry to much. The key is not to spoil yourself the rest of the year.
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.
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 spoiling yourself this Thanksgiving, try adding a healthy habit like exercise or changing a bad habit. 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 opportunity to spoil yourself.