Tips on how to stay healthy during the holiday season

Tips on how to stay healthy during the holiday season blog | Torrens University

Ten tips from experienced Nutritionist, Naturopath and Torrens University lecturer Max Hacker to help you stay healthy and happy over the holidays.

It’s almost time to hand in your last assignment and relax over the summer! The holidays are also a great opportunity to check in on your physical and mental wellbeing, as Max Hacker explains.

Max Hacker nutrition tips

Max Hacker

Max is a contract lecturer at Torrens University in Nutrition, Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine. He is trained as a registered nurse in mental health, a Naturopath and a Nutritionist. As well, Max runs his online Naturopathy clinic. Drawing on this unique mix of academic knowledge and practical experience, Max offers the following tips to help you recharge through diet, relaxation and enjoying time with family and friends during the holiday season.

10 tips to stay healthy in the holidays

1. Detox and create new eating habits

Take this opportunity to break any bad eating habits you developed during the year. Start by making a plan to avoid deep-fried foods and foods and drinks that are high in sugar. Instead, choose less processed foods, such as fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens including herbs like basil or parsley, and high-fibre foods such as legumes (chickpeas, lentils and black beans etc.). Sometimes swap your morning coffee for green tea. Turmeric is super detoxifying, so add turmeric powder to your cooking. Also, onions, garlic, spring onions and leeks are all detoxifying for the liver. Invite a friend to join you in this new regime or tell them about your plan so they can hold you accountable.

2. Alternate between healthy meal options

Salads are ideal in the hot weather. They’re delicious as a side dish or turn them into a full meal by adding feta cheese, maybe some salmon (if it is sustainably farmed), and couscous, for example. Check out the Mediterranean diet, which is suited to the summer months. It includes less processed, more wholesome foods – olives and extra virgin olive oil, fresh vegetables, and oily fish, such as mackerel, trout and sardines. When it comes to buying the freshest seasonal ingredients over the summer, relax and shop at your local produce markets instead of dashing into the supermarket.

3. Prepare healthy snacks beforehand

Have some healthy snacks ready in the fridge. Chia pudding is easy to make as a snack or breakfast: mix oats with chia seeds, and pour almond or oat milk, soy or cow's milk over it, whichever you prefer. Maybe spoon some yogurt on top and leave it overnight in the fridge. Chopped carrots, cucumber, capsicum and celery with a dip of hummus or pesto are healthy and delicious. Also, hard boil some eggs and keep them in the fridge for a high-protein snack. And for a sweet treat, a piece of dark chocolate is a healthy alternative to milk chocolate, especially if it’s sugar-free.

4. Manage your alcohol intake

In the Mediterranean diet the custom is to have a glass of red wine with the meal. That’s both satisfying and healthier than drinking numerous glasses of alcohol without eating. Alternating a glass of water with an alcoholic drink can slow down your alcohol intake and keep you hydrated. Another option that’s now widely accepted is low or zero-alcohol drinks. Also, glass of kombucha with a wedge of lemon is a healthy and bubbly alternative at a party.

5. Keep cool and stay hydrated

Make it a priority to stay really well hydrated. Drink up to 3L of water a day during the hot weather. Bring a bottle of water with you wherever you go and have a jug of water on the dinner table, perhaps with slices of lime, lemon or cucumber in it.

6. Treat yourself to a glass of juice

Juices are a refreshing treat to have occasionally over the holiday season. Squeezing an orange juice can be a good alternative to coffee. Mix up your fruit juice by adding spinach leaves, kale or cucumber, which is super hydrating. Or keep it simple, with just carrot or carrot and orange juice, which are delicious and nutritious. Add a dash of extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil, especially carrot juice, as it will help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins. Remember that when juicing fruit and vegetables, you leave behind most of the important fibre, including the seeds and pulp. Therefore, drinking juice does not replace eating fresh fruit and vegetables.

7. Exercise and stay active

When you’re not following your regular routine, it’s OK to miss some gym sessions, as long as you replace them with another activity. Perhaps take a long walk in the bush or along the beach or go on an invigorating bike ride and stop for a picnic. Maybe do laps in an ocean pool or go body surfing. These are all fun, great exercises that you might not have time for during the year.

8. Choose healthy food options at the family celebrations and events

Over the holidays, friends and extended families come together to catch up and eat! Here’s a plan so you don’t overindulge: serve yourself one plate of healthy food and don’t go back for seconds. Fill half the plate with salads and vegetables, a quarter with meat or other protein, and a quarter with carbohydrates, such as rice or pasta. Also, take only a small serving of dessert and eat it slowly so you can really enjoy it.

9. Spend time with family and friends

When it comes to family time over the summer, simply being there with your loved ones is a valuable gift for all of you. It’s true that ‘The best present is your presence’. Appreciate the time you have together and perhaps plan some healthy activities you don't usually do, such as a family bushwalk.

10. Celebrate the break from your routine

Over the holidays do things that you find enjoyable and rejuvenating. That might be reading a book, seeing friends, or engaging in meditation. Being outdoors in nature is one of the best ways to rejuvenate the mind and body. Don’t overcrowd your schedule, though. Give yourself some time out to relax.

Wishing everyone a safe, happy holiday season.

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