Are you ready for the holiday season? The festivities are notorious for taking us off track with our health goals. Tempting foods and drinks can be everywhere. However, you can make healthier choices over the festive season with some know-how. Here are some of our favourite tips…
1. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER (WITH SODIUM BICARBONATE)
Staying hydrated is essential for good health. Drinking enough water can help to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, and ensures every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. Adding a pinch of bicarbonate of soda can help alkaline the body, reducing acidity and improving your immunity and overall health.
2. EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
Starting your day with a hearty and healthy breakfast is essential for the best health. A protein-rich breakfast is best as it will keep you satiated until lunch. Healthy protein-rich breakfasts may include an omelette with avocado, a tofu scramble or a smoothie packed with protein powder and antioxidant-rich berries such as blackberries, strawberries or blueberries.
According to the National Weight Control Registry, research shows that people lose more weight and keep it off if they eat breakfast daily.  Eating breakfast also helps you feel fuller for extended periods, making you less likely to binge eat later in the day.
3. ENJOY REAL FOODS
Eating natural and organic foods is recommended for the best health. This includes organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes, as these are rich in micronutrients – the vitamins and minerals the body needs for the best health.
If you eat meat and fish, try choosing wild-caught oily fish such as salmon and mackerel or grass-fed organic meats, as these are richer in beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids that can support your body’s optimal health processes.
4. WALK MORE
Ensuring you walk throughout the day can help you stay active and maintain a healthy weight while losing body fat. Walking for 30 minutes or more daily is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health.
Research shows that walking can ward off heart disease, increase the heart rate, lower blood pressure and strengthen the heart. Studies also show that walking can help with improving brain health. One study of 6,000 women aged 65 and older found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. 
Going for a walk is a simple activity that you can do daily that has powerful health benefits.
5. BREATHE PROPERLY
Breathing is essential for good health. Most of us practice shallow breathing from the chest; deep breathing comes from the diaphragm below the lungs. The lungs are a major muscle of respiration, and when you breathe deeply, it can help to decrease stress and increase overall calm.
Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange and relaxation, which can positively increase energy, pain relief, better digestion, improved posture, and many other health benefits.
You can practice deep breathing to stay calm whenever you feel stressed during the holiday season.
6. SUPPLEMENT THE MISSING NUTRIENTS
Your body needs a wide range of nutrients to stay healthy. Many of us may need more essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to ensure optimal health.
Due to modern agricultural practices, the soil in which our food is grown is not as nutritious as in previous decades. Several studies have shown an apparent decline in food nutrient content over the past 70 years. 
Taking a high-quality multivitamin daily ensures that all your nutrition needs are met.
7. FIND HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES
Suppose you want to eat less sugar and salt; making a few healthy food swaps can make all the difference. For Christmas Dinner, lean meats such as turkey, chicken or ham are all excellent choices. Even a plant-based main is good as many vegetarian and vegan options are now available. Some good choices include nut roast or butternut squash, for example.
8. SIT LESS
Sitting too long each day can have detrimental effects on your health. Studies show that sitting for long periods can shorten your lifespan.
One study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine found that sitting for long periods can be a risk factor for early death. They also found that people who sat for 30 minutes or less at a time had the lowest risk of premature death. 
Remembering to move, even to get up and go for a walk, is essential to avoid becoming sedentary.
9. TRY RED WINE…BUT DRINK SMART
A lot has been written about the health benefits of red wine. As a festive drink, Mulled wine may have some health benefits. That’s because Red Wine contains a compound called Resveratrol, which research shows can help to slow down the body’s ageing process. It’s also good for the heart and keeping ‘good’ cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein in the blood.
While we’re not suggesting mulled wine should be enjoyed every day, you can feel reassured that the studies suggest it does have many benefits for good health.  Therefore, you can enjoy the occasional mulled wine, knowing it may be doing your body good.
10. STAY MINDFUL
Celebrating the festivities can be enjoyable but also a stressful experience. Learning to step back and practice being mindful of your environment, thoughts, and emotions is essential for your well-being.
Simple ways to stay mindful over the holiday include practising mindful eating and starting the day with a stretch or yoga as part of your morning routine. Finding some quiet time to recharge, whether going for a walk in nature or making a list of your priorities for the day, can help you stay calm and centred.
11. AVOID SALTY SNACKS
While salty snacks such as crisps and salted nuts are everywhere during the holiday season, it’s advisable to go easy on them where possible.
Reducing your salt intake to less than 5 grams per day can help to reduce blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart attack. The main benefit of lowering salt intake is reducing high blood pressure.
Drinking plenty of water can help to reduce salt cravings. Some other healthy choices to replace salty snacks include protein-rich cheese, mixed nuts, celery, or fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, and pickled vegetables.
Sweet potato fries are an excellent alternative to potato fries or crisps, while baby carrots and Greek yoghurt can be a healthy and crunchy snack to nibble on.
12. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
It’s easy to lose quality sleep during the holidays, as people stay up longer and go to bed later. Ensuring you get enough sleep or rest time is essential for good health – ideally eight hours each night.
Getting a good night’s sleep can lower your risk of severe health problems like diabetes and heart disease. 
If you can’t stick to your regular sleep schedule, you must ensure you get a good quality sleep with the rest time you are given. Some helpful tips to help you sleep better at night include creating a restful environment, keeping your room calm and quiet, and including physical activity in your daily routine. These tips will help to prepare you for a better night’s rest.
By following these healthy habits, you can enjoy festive treats while ensuring they don’t impact your overall health goals. This way, you can enjoy the holiday season and feel better prepared to move ahead with your health and wellness goals for 2023.
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