Season’s Eatings: Are You Overindulging?

By / Magazine / December 22nd, 2011 / 2

Studies show that, as a whole, Canadians are making a more conscious effort to live healthier lives. A recent Ipsos Reid survey commissioned by the Canadian Health Food Association shows that more than half (57%) of Canadians are making healthier food choices and incorporating additional physical activities into their daily lives (40%). But, now that the holidays are here, 65 per cent of Canadians are expecting to take on a more carefree attitude and indulge in at least one behaviour that is not optimal for their overall health.

“As busy as we are, the reality is that the added demands of the holidays are enjoyable,” says Kyle Jones, a dedicated Canadian Men’s Triathlon Team athlete, who is also no stranger to the occasional indulgent moment. “That said, the eating, drinking, exercising and sleeping habits that come along with the season can often leave us feeling less than our best and unable to enjoy everything the holidays have to offer.”

To get through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the Canadian Health Food Association suggests a variety of simple options that anyone can use in their daily routine to help them function at their best.

Drink  and be Merry
This holiday season, more than one-third (38%) of Canadians will consume more alcoholic beverages than they usually do throughout the year. The effects of a hangover may vary, but the most common cause is dehydration. While nearly half (49%) of Canadians have started or increased their water consumption, it’s important to not get confused into thinking that all beverages will hydrate you! As the brain absorbs alcohol, it turns off its thirst response, and the kidneys release water, resulting in the body losing water without telling you to replenish it.

As a rule of thumb, always pre-hydrate with approximately three cups of water before indulging in an evening of festive cheer and, if you choose to consume alcohol, alternate it with water throughout the night as it will help you function better the next day. B vitamins have also been found to help when you’ve indulged in a little too much “spirit” by helping your body hydrate faster and turn your food into much-needed energy.

Stuff the Stocking; Not the Stomach
When faced with breaded appetizers, rich side dishes and sugary treats, 40 per cent of Canadians will indulge in foods with higher carbohydrate, fat and/or sugar content this holiday season. If you do find yourself enjoying the holiday sausage rolls a little too much, try engaging in some gentle exercise as soon as possible after eating – increasing your heart rate a little either right before or after a heavy meal can help reduce blood fats. Encourage family and friends to join you for a walk to enjoy the festive outdoor décor following a large sit-down meal; or walk home after a party (just remember to follow pedestrian safety tips).

Settle Down for a Long Winter’s Nap
While nothing increases energy during the holidays like getting a good night’s sleep, the reality is that holiday parties, events and late nights spent shopping and wrapping presents can make it difficult to get the seven to eight hours of sleep per night. While Atlantic Canadians are the most likely (45%) to find it difficult to get their usual rest over the holiday season, adding ginseng to a health plan can help stimulate the body and brain and provide energy for someone that was late to bed and early to rise.

In addition to functioning better, a well-rested person can have healthier looking skin as the cells regenerate faster. Vitamin E can help you look refreshed too as it acts as an antioxidant and protects fatty tissues to keep the skin looking healthy.

Little Helpers
“We know that nearly one-in-three, (30%) of Canadians have started taking or increased their natural health product use over the past two years,” says Helen Sherrard, president of the Canadian Health Food Association. “Canadians are looking to proactively treat and manage their overall health and there are a number of natural health products they can use to help them be at their best.”

Nearly half (47%) of all Canadians will be spending less time outdoors this winter which can limit their exposure to vitamin D. The “sunshine vitamin” helps reduce chances or heart disease, support immune system function and regulate calcium in the body. It can help Canadians feel less stressed while juggling holiday errands.

Those planning on spending some time under the mistletoe may want to consider stocking up on vitamin C supplements. It can help to reduce the length and severity of cold and flu symptoms. One of the most common supplements available, vitamin C cannot be stored by the human body and it can be difficult to obtain the required dose on a healthy meal plan alone.

Whether you’re looking forward to the food, shopping, entertaining, socializing or anything that makes the season special to you, there are a number of simple options you can use on a daily basis to help you function better while enjoying the holidays. “Allow yourself to indulge,” says Jones. “Just add in some good, healthy choices too. You’ll feel better and your body will thank you.”

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Looking at the small things that make life great and the people who create them.

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