Balancing Food and Fitness this Holiday Season

December 5 | 2019
By: Bill Olsen
Senior VP, Operations at United Benefit Advisors
holiday meal

With our busy lives and schedules, it can be difficult to find the right balance between food and fitness. The holidays compound the challenge even more. Between work and personal life, deadlines and sleep, indulgence and healthful eating, somewhere there is surely a balance! We’re here to show you how to do it.

The holidays are in full swing, bringing with it the traditional and much-anticipated menus of turkey, ham, brisket, stuffing, mashed potatoes and so much more. While the festive season is a fantastic opportunity to connect with friends and family and express our gratitude for all the things we are thankful for, it also tends to be an opportunity to overindulge at the dinner table. We’re all guilty! In fact, according to Consumer Reports, the average American may eat up to 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, approximately twice the recommended daily allowance!

One way to keep this in check is to manage your portion sizes. Tricks, like using smaller plates, eating slowly, and sipping water before and after your meal, will help slow you down and ensure you really enjoy your food. Make sure your portions of meat are about the size of your fist, and that your plate is evenly balanced with protein, vegetables, and healthy fats! Aim to select healthier options at your holiday dinner, including green beans and sweet potatoes (without the marshmallows!) instead of stuffing and casseroles.

If you want extra credit, you can go above and beyond just managing your plate and incorporate a fun fitness activity into your holiday. Here are a few ideas to get the whole family involved and to avoid falling asleep on the couch immediately after dessert.

Register for a Turkey Trot or other Holiday Races. These fun runs or races, typically ranging from 5km (3.1 miles) to 10km (6.2 miles), are held throughout the holiday season in communities nationwide. You can run, jog or even walk with loved ones to enjoy some exercise before the big feast.

Play some two-hand touch. Instead of watching football, encourage everyone to go outside and throw around the pigskin. You could also play Frisbee, volleyball or other team games.

Plan a holiday scavenger hunt. Pre-planning a scavenger hunt around your yard or neighborhood can be a fun way to get your family moving. You could even consider making it a Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa-themed hunt to get everyone excited about the upcoming holidays!

Take a post-meal walk. Go walking with the family after dinner. It gets you out of the house and helps you burn calories too.

Or try a new indoor activity. If the weather is too chilly or dreary for your liking, check out activities or events at the local community center, like indoor pick-up soccer, roller skating, or a friendly game of basketball, among others.

Maximize your shopping. Heading out for holiday sales post-turkey? Park at the far end of the parking lot and take the stairs instead of the escalators to rack up more steps.

There are so many fun ways to stay active during the holiday season. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday with your family!


Consumer Reports. How Many Calories Are in Thanksgiving Dinner?

©Copyright 2019 by Bill Olsen, VP  Marketing & Communications at United Benefit Advisors.  Reproduction permitted with attribution to the author.

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