Healthy Living

Staying healthy through the holidays

December 16, 2021

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Looking for ways to stay healthy this holiday season? Katie Crawford, dietitian for Legacy Health’s Weight and Diabetes Institute, shares some pointers on how she stays healthy during the holidays and throughout her daily life.

How do you stay healthy during the holidays?

Katie Crawford: Nutrition isn't just about choosing healthy foods to nourish your physical health. It's also about nurturing other parts of your body, too, including cravings, pure enjoyment from delicious food, social connections, etc., I've found that when I eat consistently and don't skip meals, it makes it easier for me to make healthier choices during a holiday meal, party or social event. I then try to model my plate using the 80/20 guideline — 80% of my plate is healthy foods that are physically nourishing, and 20% is less healthy foods that are nourishing other parts of me. It's also a common mentality that as soon as we "mess up," it's tempting to throw in the towel for the rest of the holiday season. But I have found that when I take it meal-by-meal instead of month-by-month, I feel so much better by the end of the holiday season. During the holidays, another essential thing for me is to get some movement in. Instead of completely skipping a workout, I may do half of my usual workout. Following through with some exercise makes me feel physically, mentally and emotionally better so I can be my best self for my friends and family and not be such a grinch!

What healthy holiday traditions do you have with your family and friends?

Katie Crawford: A newer holiday tradition has been to go on a hike with my friends. Nothing too intense. Just getting out in nature and spending time with them in an environment not loaded with holiday treats has been refreshing. Don't get me wrong, we still get together and enjoy delicious food, but hiking is something we all enjoy and it helps us feel better. For Thanksgiving, my boyfriend and I hiked with his family this year, which was a fun way to spend quality time together while also exploring a new place.

How do you maintain a daily healthy lifestyle?

Katie Crawford: Making sure I get myself to the grocery store over the weekend and to do a little food prep is essential. If I know that I'm going to be busy the entire weekend I will try to get it done early. I know from experience that if I don't get it done, my nutrition suffers during the week, and I end up getting takeout more often. Things come up, though, so I have learned to keep my fridge and freezer stocked with nutritious choices that last longer than a week just in case I don't make it to the store. This backup plan still allows me to eat healthily, and I feel so much better.

One of the most important things to me is working out. I love the way it makes me feel, both physically and mentally. I know everyone has heard that the key to exercise is finding something you love, but it is true. I used to go through phases where I would go to the gym for a few months and then burn out and stop altogether for months. Because I have finally found an exercise that I love doing, I no longer have a yo-yo relationship with it. I have seen that I do best when it's part of my Monday through Friday workday routine. Don't get me wrong: Obligations come up after work, and when they do, I try to plan and work out before work in the morning if I can. If that's not happening I make sure to get back to it the next day. It's more about the habit and routine for me rather than motivating myself every day because the reality is that motivation isn't there every day. It ebbs and flows.

I'm human and far from perfect. Some days I overeat on sugary treats or miss workouts, but it's all about what you do next that matters. Instead of throwing in the towel and waiting until the following Monday or next month, don't beat yourself up. Try to move on and make your next choice a healthy one. Building a healthy lifestyle starts with making small changes that eventually turn into habits. I know this may sound cheesy, but remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!


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