Healthier for the Holidays

Don't let the holiday spirit hijack your lifestyle. Routines can become badly upset by broken diets and broken bedtimes. BTN nutritionist, Gayle Reichler, RD, is here with four simple tips (some dietary, some not), to keep you off the 2015 list of resolutions and train wrecks.


It’s time to celebrate! But, losing your sleep in the process can make you wish the holidays never came. This year, get ready ahead of time with a plan for tackling the hectic pace and heavy food. Here are four things you can do to ease the stress, keep to schedule and hopefully keep your waistline in check too. 

  1. Bring or prepare healthier alternatives for your meals and entertaining. These days, there are many delicious ways to cut back on calories and prepare lighter fare. Don't go crazy indulging in super-fatty foods that will mean a certain diet in 2014.  As a general rule of thumb, if you reduce the amount of butter or oil in a baking recipe by one quarter, you will not miss it.  Heavy foods also take much longer to digest making them more likely to still be sitting high in your system at bedtime.  This can lead to indigestion and restless nights. There are some good websites to look at for alternative, healthier recipes. I recommend cookinglight.com, where all the recipes are lighter as well as epicurious.com (but you need to seek out the low fat recipes in the case of the latter).
  2. Maintain a sleep routine during the hour before bedtime. Even if your guests are on their way, don’t plan to clean and tidy up during the hour before bed. Use this time to relax. Listen to relaxing music or create a setting that is conducive to reducing your stress.  Without this critical "down time," you might find yourself too stimulated to go to bed once your head hits the pillow.
  3. Watch your alcoholic intake at night. Alcohol interferes with your sleep patterns leading to insomnia and a potential night of tossing and turning. Alcohol in your system also inhibits your body from falling into a deep sleep; critical for that fully rested feeling  This explains why even if you don’t drink a lot but have just a few drinks close to bedtime, you might still waken feeling groggy.
    Alcohol can also lead to a shortened sleep cycle. It is worse if you consume alcoholic beverages an hour or less before bed. A limited amount of alcohol at happy hour or at least six hours prior to bedtime have been shown not to disrupt sleep patterns because the alcohol has been effectively processed in your system.  If you are a Senior, be especially careful because alcohol is processed more quickly in your brain.  Be sure to choose your drinks thoughtfully, and, limit them to 6 hours before going to bed.
  4. Get some exercise. Even walking for 6 blocks during the day can help your body have a more restful sleep so go ahead...Take a walk, play outside with your kids. Try a new snow sport like snow shoe-ing.  Make it safe and purchase some elastic Yaktrax that provides a tread for your sneakers  Just slip them on over your shoes or sneakers and rain or snow, they keep the ground safe all year long.  Great if you need to walk a dog too!  

 

Have a healthy and restful holiday season!