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December 16, 2013

7 Ways to Stay Energized During the Holidays

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

We're in the final stretch of the holiday season and energy levels are running low. Here's how to feel better and find more balance in your life from now until New Year's Day. (For more tips on surviving the holidays, and delicious recipes, download a copy of our Fun Food/Happy Family online magazine )

Nix the nibbling. Everyday mindless noshing may add pounds and sap your energy.  Sugar cookies, chocolate, and holiday candy provide a temporary energy jolt but eating sugary treats usually leads to an energy "crash," which leaves you feeling even more depleted. It's OK to Indulge, but eat only the foods you love in very small portions and along with a meal or right after it to keep energy levels on a more even keel.

Tote healthy foods.   Eating right helps prevents mindless noshing. Start every day with a balanced breakfast that includes protein-rich foods such as Hood Milk, Hood Cottage Cheese, Greek yogurt, and eggs. If you don't have time to eat breakfast at home, bring it with you. Always take your lunch and healthy snacks to work or on errands to avoid the temptation of high-calorie foods at restaurant and mall food courts, and to make it easier to include fruits and vegetables.

Stick to a routine.  Adhering to rituals, including healthy eating and regular exercise can be difficult, but is actually beneficial during stressful times, like the holiday season.  Following a routine refills your reserves of physical and mental energy that you need to work, cook, clean, shop, and entertain.
Take baby steps to better health.  Stress and fatigue challenge your willpower and eating right at every meal and party seems next to impossible.  Take each day one at a time, and make small, positive choices, such as including whole grains at breakfast or snacking on fruit instead of candy. Every time you make a better choice, it's easier to make the next one. 
Exercise your Plan B.  Exercise is energizing, but it's often difficult to go to the gym or get outside to walk or run as much as you normally would. That's OK, as long as you have a back-up plan for physical activity. For example, when the weather is bad and you can't walk outside, wear a pedometer to encourage taking more steps throughout the day or walk laps around the mall before you start your holiday shopping.
Laugh. When you're feeling rundown, laughter may be just the ticket to improve your mood and energy levels. Get lost in a funny movie or TV show or get together with friends and family who make you laugh.

Sleep off stress. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, but the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends 7 to 9 hours as a ballpark amount for adults. Adequate shut-eye makes it possible for your body to complete its nighttime tasks, including muscle repair, memory consolidation and regulating growth and appetite. Cheating yourself of sleep means you're less likely to make healthy decisions and to engage fully at work and at social activities.

 

 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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