Inhaling a meal and going back for seconds can easily add unwanted inches to your waistline. A traditionally prepared holiday meal can contain more than 5,000 calories, which is acceptable if your regular diet is relatively healthy. However, abiding by an unhealthy diet year round can put your overall health in jeopardy.
“Most young adults worry less about reducing their risk of chronic diseases like heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, or diabetes than they worry about being strong and able to have good work endurance,” said Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
“The benefits of eating healthy as a young adult will make these diseases less likely and keep them away longer, even when there is a strong family history or genetic factors that increase the risks,” she added.
Variety of less processed foods, like fruits and vegetables and moderation of portion sizes to keep at a healthy weight are the key guidelines to a healthy diet.
Maintaining this diet throughout the year gives one the liberty to enjoy a celebratory meal without remorse.
“We should enjoy a special meal without guilt even if it is not the healthiest fare,” said Gerbstadt. “One meal does not make or break healthy eating.”
“If you try the 80/20 rule and eat healthy 80 percent of the time, with only 20 percent of the time being less healthy, the diet will be [healthy enough] to promote good performance.”
Food is fuel and for the human body to perform at its optimum, it needs lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, vegetable oils and nuts.
“If we have a high performance engine, much like a Marine’s body, we would never think of using regular gas for fuel,” Gerbstadt said. “Your body deserves to be treated with the respect that it gets from eating a healthy diet.
“Ideally, three meals and one to three snacks throughout the day provide the best ratio of nutrients for strength and endurance.”
For those that indulged an excess of food and drinks on special occasions, Akida H. Jordan, health promotion coordinator for Semper Fit,
suggests increasing water intake and physical activity by 30 minutes a day to work off the calories.
“Those simple steps will be a great start to help [the] body flush out waste and improve the functionality of [the] digestive system,” Jordan said. “The increase in exercise will help burn those additional calories, increase heart activity and metabolic rocessing.”