Happy Holidays!

The holidays are upon us and if you are an expat in Shanghai this holiday season may very well last until the first week of February. The feeding frenzy not ending until the Lantern Festival signals the end of Spring Festival.  By then we will all be rolling back to our day jobs.

When I considered this blog I thought of the several approaches one could take to surviving the holiday feasting. The options varied from eating and drinking and  enjoying the season and eating and drinking some more to setting up a strict strategy to maintain a semblance of  ones usual healthy diet. Or settling for somewhere in between. Since the dietitians’ mantra is “everything in moderation” I propose the “somewhere in-between” option for dealing with the onslaught of traditional delights and drinking.

One way to put a healthy twist on the festive feasting is to plan to maintain some type of exercise routine during the holidays. A recent study, reported in the Journal of Physiology on the effects of “overconsumption” concluded “Our research demonstrates that a short period of overconsumption and reduced physical activity leads to very profound negative changes in a variety of physiological systems,” study co-author Jean-Philippe Walhin said in a journal news release. “But a daily bout of exercise stops most of these negative changes from taking place.”*

There are two key points here. “Short periods of over consumption” sure sounds like Christmas vacation to me and a “daily bout of exercise” sounds like a simple solution that most people can manage while on holiday. The daily “bout” that was used in the study consisted of 45 minutes on a treadmill. If you are visiting relatives for the holidays and they haven’t provided you access to a treadmill, not to worry, a brisk 45 minute walk around the neighborhood will do just as well. Same goes if you are spending the break  lounging on a pretty white beach. Enjoy the fresh ocean breezes with a 45 minute walk down the sand. If you pick the same time everyday, say after lunch or better yet, after dinner, then you are more likely to keep up the “daily bout”.

Does exercise give you license to sample all the holiday treats you have dreamed of since last year?  Well sort of, the key word here is sample. Generally speaking every holiday meal (especially if you are visiting relatives and friends) is overflowing with loads of delicious dishes. Then there are the holiday open houses that have a table full of traditional and trendy bites. Remember the word of the day is “sample”. Try whatever you like but keep it to one or two delicious bites.  As I always say the first bite is always the best, so why go on?

When we eat, we drink, especially at a party. There are many tried and true tricks to limiting your alcohol and non-alcohol intake. Holiday drinks, whether they have alcohol or not will have calories, so keeping it to one or two of these Christmas beverages helps too.  Still thirsty? Try a splash of water on the rocks!

Happy Holidays to All and Safe Travels from Eat Well Shanghai!