Family, exercise keys to balanced lifestyle

With the holiday season upon us, several people will likely experience high stress levels that can lead to unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity, Julie Metos, a dietician in the College of Health, said.

“People get so busy that they don’t think about their health,” Metos said.

Metos said there are several things students can do to stay healthy during the holidays, including creating a regular meal plan and sticking to it, stopping eating when full and doing physically demanding winter activities, like skiing and snowboarding.

She said that an easy way to maintain healthier habits is to focus more on enjoying the holiday season and family traditions rather than the food that tends to come with them.

“It’s hard to make time for healthy eating when there are so many other things that busy your day during the holidays,” Christy Razka, a junior in history, said.

One guideline Razka follows is incorporating physical activities into her holiday schedule.

“My family always plays baseball when we get together for the holidays,” she said. “It makes us all feel better physically, and it’s fun to do activities as a family.”

Another factor that increases unhealthiness during this time of year is the enormous amount of stress people incur because of the holidays.

Students have finals, family stress, weather and finances to worry about, and health usually goes to the bottom of the list, said Traci Thompson, director of the Performance Enhancement through Applied Knowledge academy at the U.

“Your body builds up stress hormones; if you don’t use them, they can cause headaches and tension,” Thompson said.

The best way to decrease these stress hormones is to find some physical activity that you enjoy, she said. There are many holiday and winter activities, such as sledding, skiing and ice skating that are healthy alternatives to binge eating, Thompson said.

“One of the most important things to keep in mind over the holidays is to say ‘no’ to some events or activities,” Thompson said. “Do what you can, and don’t stress over things you can’t control.”

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