How to Prepare for the Holidays with Harley Pasternak

Holiday season is upon us again and this festive time of year often means celebrations, family time, and overeating. However, it’s important for us to remember that Thanksgiving dinner is indeed a dinner—not a week of gluttony. The same can be said with Christmas dinner, Hanukkah dinner, or a New Year’s Eve celebration.

In fact, a recent study from the University of Copenhagen found that people’s cholesterol levels were elevated as much as 20 percent when measured directly after the holiday season. That is to say, our overeating, poor choices of food, and reduced physical activity during the holiday season is actually pretty bad for our hearts, not to mention our waistline.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during this holiday season that will help you find the balance while we celebrate.

First, as I mentioned earlier, a holiday celebration is generally one or two meals, not an entire day or week. Make sure you’re still having a healthy breakfast and lunch filled with protein, healthy fat, and fiber. Think cold water fish, nuts, seeds, green vegetables, and healthy fats like avocado or olives.

Next, a celebratory dinner does not mean you should be inactive the entire day. In fact, quite the opposite. Make sure you hit your step goal every single day, regardless of which holiday it is. I tell my clients to try and get 20 percent extra steps each holiday, more as a celebration, and to make you feel less guilty come meal time. Also, remember not to over exercise or go without food the day after your celebration.

This brings me to my next point, which is: there’s no room for guilt. A celebration is exactly that—a time to truly embrace a holiday and all of its traditions. This often includes a celebratory meal, so at meal time, do whatever brings you joy and don’t feel any guilt about it. 

You can create healthier versions of classic holiday meals but you don’t need to. I’d rather you truly enjoy every single bite at that meal, as you made great efforts to eat a balanced diet and hit your daily step goal the rest of the year. 

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