Balancing Health Goals and Holiday Gatherings

Introduction:

Wondering how you are going to stay on track with your health goals at your upcoming Fourth of July party? It’s easy to get carried away when diving into those delicious dishes or gathering with friends, especially when you don’t plan ahead. By making the right choices and thinking ahead of time, you can keep making progress with those health goals you’ve set.

Here are 5 ways to stay on track at your upcoming holiday gatherings!

1. Find Ways to Get in Movement

Summer holidays are a great time to get in multiple forms of movement. No matter what your preferred form of exercise is, there is something for you! If you’re a runner or walker, there is usually a holiday run you can participate in. This is a great way to get your day started and gather the family for a beneficial activity. If running isn’t for you, there are many other ways to get in your exercise. Being outdoors in the summer sun is a great advantage of some holidays being over the summer. If you have a creative mind, planning games or outside activities may be a good idea. These could include things such as cornhole, “minute to win it” mini games, a kickball game, and many more. If you are traveling for your holiday plans, thinking ahead about when you can get in that movement is always a smart choice. If you know there won’t be many opportunities for you, consider bringing a bike, golf clubs, or yoga mat. It’s important to carve out time in the morning or during free time for some form of exercise. Remember, exercise looks different for everyone and any form of movement counts.

2. Bring Your Own Food

Bringing your own food to gatherings can save you from those snacks you may not be able to stop eating or that might make you feel not so great the next day. When you bring a dish to contribute to gathering, you can ensure that there will be a smart, healthy option there for you to enjoy along with your other favorite foods. Remember, balance is key and you can still enjoy a moderate amount of your favorite foods while also consuming those healthy foods as well. It’s also important to remember to bring your own snacks as well so that you have something healthy to snack on during the day. This way it makes it easier to avoid picking up a less healthy option. Packing a cooler or pre-portioning baggies of healthier options may be a smart idea before getting on the road.

Here are two dishes you could bring to your gathering:

Berry Cheesecake No-Bake Bars

Berry

  • In a food processor, pule 7 oz graham crackers (broken up), 1/2 cup toasted pecans, and a dash of salt
  • While pulsing, add in 1/3 cup of oil
  • Once combined, press mixture into a baking pan (9×13 recommended)
  • Into the food processor, pulse 8 oz of softened cream cheese, 2 cups plain greek yogurt, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for around 60 seconds
  • Spread mixture evenly over the crust, cover, and place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours
  • Top with berries, cut into squares, and serve!

Note: good source of protein from the greek yogurt and antioxidants from the berries

Watermelon Feta Salad

  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, and 1/2 tsp salt
  • In a salad bowl/serving bowl, add 3 cups cubbed seedless watermelon, 1 cup chopped cucumber, 1 cup crumbled feta, 1/2 sliced red onion, and 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • When ready to serve, add dressing and toss!

3. Don’t Overdo it With Alcohol

Outdoor gatherings are places to let loose and have fun with your family and friends. It’s great to be relaxed and enjoy social events, but it’s an easy way to lose track of the amount of alcohol you are consuming. Alcohol blocks how certain nutrients are used and absorbed/broken down in the body, which can be a major block for individual’s health goals. Not only does it negatively impact the absorption of nutrients, but alcoholic beverages can also contain a lot of calories and added sugars. Certain ingredients are commonly overlooked in liquids and being aware of them is important. Enjoying a few beverages with your family/friends is completely okay, but being aware of how much is key. Mixing in a water to stay hydrated and not overdo it is always a great idea when participating in drinking.

4. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is key to feeling energized and ready to go for a long day of celebration, especially if you are moving around a lot or in hot temperatures all day. Staying hydrated is important to regulate your body’s heat and replenish those fluids lost through sweat. Consuming sufficient amounts of water also aids in improving your mood as well as brain function. An easy way to remember to stay hydrated is to always have a water bottle on hand. If you are someone who gets tired of drinking plain water all day, mixing in items such as lemons, cucumbers, or strawberries can be a great way to add some flavor.

5. Get Enough Sleep the Night Before

Sleep has been proven to have effects on energy levels as well as overall health and fitness. When you get enough quality sleep, you are likely to experience less hunger than someone who may have had less sleep. This can be very beneficial when attending a gatherings with a lot of snacks around. Studies have also shown that sleep effects the hormones Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin helps keep long-term energy in the body while Ghrelin is the hormone that initiates hunger. When an individual gets more sleep, they are most likely to have higher leptin and lower Ghrelin. With this in mind, getting enough sleep the night before will ensure you have more energy for the next day as well as decrease your hunger cravings.

Summary:

Planning ahead is the biggest key to being successful in keeping up with your goals. When you show up to an event unprepared, it’s easy to slip back into those old habits or even come out of the weekend feeling bad about how things went. It’s important to plan ahead and feel excited as well as stress free about the upcoming gatherings you may attend.

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