As the 2023 holidays have come to an end, many people have begun to feel the effects of their holiday activities. Weeks of overeating, over-drinking, and sitting back on the sofa are fun for a while, but many are now looking to get back to a healthier lifestyle.
With that in mind, sports nutrition experts from Bulk.com have identified the most damaging holiday habits and offered some easy tips to implement healthier ones in the new year. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the festive cheer and celebrations, but for those looking to kick unhealthy habits once the festivities have ended, there are some simple and easy ways to get you feeling your best self again.
Here are three of the unhealthiest holiday habits:
Overindulging in rich foods
Over the holidays, there’s a ready supply of chocolate and cheese. While these foods are delicious, overeating for long periods of time poses health risks due to their high-calorie density. What’s more, both cheese and chocolate are high in saturated fats, which are known to contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are dangerous for the heart.
During the holidays, many people spend their time sitting on the sofa, playing games and watching films while indulging in delicious foods and enjoying a drink. It’s no surprise that research from Loughborough University suggests people gain 1 to 2 pounds of weight over the season.
Relaxing and resting during the festivities is a great way to enjoy yourself and celebrate with family, however not moving enough in the long term is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as many types of cancer.
Overindulging in alcohol
A holiday tipple goes down a treat, and it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere. However, CDC guidelines says that regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week can drastically impact your health in the long term. Officially speaking, no amount of alcohol can be considered “safe.” While there are the immediate, obvious effects of overconsumption, such as alcohol poisoning, long-term consumption is even more dangerous and can lead to many types of cancer, and increased risks of heart and liver disease.
Since the holidays have concluded, it’s an ideal time to ease back into healthier habits. Here are some tips:
Walking is arguably the simplest and cheapest exercise available to us all. It’s almost entirely free, because all you need is a pair of comfortable shoes. Swapping out short drives to the shops or your daily commute is a great way to sneak exercise into your day without really noticing.
Walking has many benefits to your health: it builds stamina, burns excess calories, and is great for a healthy heart. Experts say that a brisk walking pace is best for your fitness—making this a simple and effective way to feel healthier.
Drink less alcohol
After the holidays, it can be difficult to reduce the amount of alcohol we consume, but it’s crucially important if you want to improve your health. An effective strategy for cutting back on alcohol intake is substituting alcoholic drinks with alcohol-free alternatives. These are not only delicious but also contribute to better overall health, helping to reduce the negative side effects your body feels from alcohol consumption.
Fill up on vegetables
Processed foods are dangerous, as it can become easy to consume hundreds of calories in small meals. Vegetables are generally much bulkier and less calorie-dense than other foods, they’re also full of essential fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Filling up your plate with plenty of vegetables can be an easy way to control your calorie intake without feeling like you’re eating less. It can be hard to improve your diet without feeling hungry, but by bulking up your plate with vegetables, you’ll still feel like your stomach is full. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and Brussels sprouts are among the most filling and lowest-calorie vegetables. Consider filling up your plate with these.
Avoid secret sugars
Sucrose, fructose, and dextrose are all scientific names for different types of sugar, easily missed by the undiscerning consumer. You might also see high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, and molasses hidden in the ingredients list, which are all just sugars in a different form. What’s more, natural sugars are presented as being much less unhealthy, but they’re all still just as calorie-dense and potentially harmful. Watch out for products filled with fruit juices and honey, which claim to be a healthy option but can have just as many calories.
Start slowly with exercise—everything in moderation!
The hardest part of exercising regularly is often not getting started but having the strength to maintain a regular routine. This is often due to aches and pains, which can be much worse after taking a holiday break. To avoid overworking yourself at the beginning, adopt a heart rate-based workout to ensure that you’re only pushing yourself as hard as you can handle. Start your exercise plan with a frank and honest assessment of your fitness to avoid injuring yourself. At-home exercise videos are an excellent way to get into fitness in a comfortable and convenient way. There are also many great apps and online services to help guide your fitness journey. Finally, don’t forget to stretch! Stretching is essential to avoid injury and to reduce the amount of aching you’ll feel in the days after exercising. Consider following a stretching tutorial online after every exercise session.