It’s that time of year: the season for eat this/don’t eat that, do this/don’t do that, buy this/don’t buy that. The media become a blizzard of tips and tricks to help you get through the frenzy of the holiday gatherings while still being able to recognize your waistline.
But there’s one thing that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Many people neglect a major factor in both mental and physical health – and a key player to weight gain – when planning out their holiday fitness plan. And that factor is stress.
Often overlooked, stress can be a silent party-crasher. Even those who follow a healthy diet and exercise over the holidays may find themselves gaining a few extra pounds from stress alone.
There is good news, however. If you know how to deal with stress, you can indulge over the holidays while keeping your waist from growing when the New Year rolls around. Here are the top three ways you can keep stress (and weight gain) down this holiday season.
1. Eat Foods That Help You De-Stress Before Holiday Gatherings
Spinach, turkey, kale, cranberries – all of these nutritious foods have components and qualities that are detoxifying and help lower stress.
Before the big family gathering, consider snacking on a salad of mixed leafy greens like spinach and kale. Add chopped turkey, cranberries, and walnuts on top for an additional boost of serotonin, protein, and flavor. This festive, delicious lunch will help level your blood sugar, lower your stress levels, and allow you to indulge a little during the party.
2. Choose The Right Chocolate
Your body’s stress response sends signals to the brain that produce more of the hormone cortisol. When a body’s stress system is overtaxed, however, the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all your body's processes.
This can put you at increased risk for many health issues, including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
One delicious solution to help curb stress-induced cortisol is dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate can be a healthy indulgence and has been shown to reduce stress hormones, including cortisol. Because its antioxidant properties aid in the relaxation of the walls of your blood vessels, it also lowers your blood pressure and enhances circulation.
If you’re given the choice of dark chocolate or milk chocolate this holiday season, always opt for the darker of the two.
3. Exercise Whenever You Have The Chance
Exercise is a sure-fire way to lower stress levels. Plus, more exercise equals less guilt when you do indulge.
There is no better time to take extra steps than the holiday season. And fitting in a workout could be easier than you think:
- Have some shopping to do? Park as far from the store or mall as possible so you can walk.
- Shopping in a mall? Use the stairs or walk up the escalator.
- Going to a party? Park a block from the house.
Small steps can mean big gains in terms of lowering stress and keeping you healthy and fit, especially over the busy holiday months.
Reduce Stress & Indulge Without The Guilt
The holidays are stressful. They can be chaotic and frazzling — but only if you let them.
Take it easy, eat stress-reducing snacks, stay open-minded in terms of your diet, and never turn down a chance to throw in a little extra exercise into your routine.
Finally, don’t forget self-care! If you’re finding it difficult to keep everything straight, or need a little extra support in staying on track, consider giving yourself the gift of a personalized health plan from Matrix Age Management.
Our team can build a custom plan for each patient in five key areas of lifestyle and health:
- Sleep and stress
- Fitness and exercise
- Optimized hormones
Our ‘five tenets’ to a healthier life ensure you get the best results, tailored specifically for you.
If you’re looking to indulge this holiday without watching your waistline grow, contact Matrix Age Management today and schedule a free consultation.
Then get back on track to enjoying your health and your holiday!