Maybe you want to look great for that holiday family photo or get an early start on your New Year resolution. Either way, you want to feel better and healthier during the “most wonderful time of the year.” It is also one of the trickiest times of the year to maintain a healthy routine. It does not have to be. Here are a few tips from Patient First for a healthier holiday season.

Pot Luck Potential

Many holiday happenings are “bring-your-own-covered-dish.” This is the easiest way to make sure there is something “diet friendly” at the party. Whip up something you love and can feel good about eating. You might even inspire a few friends to get a little healthier with your delicious dish.

Brave the Elements

Colder weather can be an easy excuse for not going outside and being active. As long as it is safe to be outside, bundle up and brave it. A quick walk in brisk temperatures is a great way to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. Sledding and snowball fights can burn calories, and it certainly feels more like play than exercise. Be sure to take plenty of breaks to warm up and stay dry. If it really is too cold to be outside, find creative ways to get moving inside: build an indoor obstacle course for the kids, exercise with interactive video games, or break out the old DVD workout videos.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

The holidays are filled with demands, and you have a lot to do. You rush to holiday parties. The in-laws will come to town for the week. You have to clean the house, drop off the kids, decorate the tree, and cook the turkey. There are not enough hours in the day. Curb the craziness and reduce your stress. Make a schedule the whole family will follow so everyone can share the work and enjoy this special time of the year. Also, make sure that you get enough sleep and, if needed, learn when to say “no.”

Smart, Safe Gifts

Give your loved ones a gift of good health this year. Gifts that promote an active lifestyle are great for the kids and others on your shopping list: items like a bicycle, a snowboard or a trip to the batting cages. But do not forget the essentials that go along with these crowd-pleasing presents, like a helmet, knee pads, or the right footwear for a particular sport.

Keep the Kids on Track

Children do not always tell you when they are sick, tired, or not feeling well. With a busy family schedule, make sure the kids can keep up. Make healthy meals and snacks, and keep bedtimes regular, despite the seasonal excitement. If someone does not feel well, head to the doctor to keep the whole family healthy.

Wash Up

Germs spread easily when everyone spends more time indoors. Make sure that everyone in your family washes his or her hands regularly to avoid getting sick, especially this time of year. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. It is an important and easy way to stop the spread of germs.

Holiday Dieting: Pick Your Battles

Do not waste your calories on store-bought cakes and cookies. But don’t deprive yourself of something special, either. This might be the only chance all year you get to enjoy Aunt Marie’s world famous triple chocolate cupcakes. So indulge yourself and eat one. Try to avoid eating too many, of course, but don’t deny yourself something special that only comes along once a year just for the sake of your waistline. Allow yourself a “cheat day” to sample all your favorites. If you commit to a healthy diet during the year, a few treats will not ruin your progress.

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