Holiday festivities bring joy to many, but they also give rise to quite a few unhealthy habits, a new survey has found.

Two-thirds of people say they overindulge in food during the holidays, and nearly half (45%) said they take a break from exercise, according to a new survey from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

Meanwhile, a third admit they drink more alcohol during the holidays, and more than half report feeling tired and having less time for themselves.

“Holiday travel, activities with friends and family, and trying to get a bunch of things done can cause people to lose track of their healthy habits,” said Dr. Barbara Bawer, a family medicine physician at Wexner.

The survey involved 1,007 people polled between Oct. 20 and 23, with a 3.6 percentage point margin of error.

Folks need to stick to their normal routine as much as possible to avoid starting unhealthy habits, Bawer said..

“Once you’re out of a routine, which typically happens around the holidays, it’s really hard to get back on track, partly because the motivation is no longer there,” Bawer said in a university news release.

People should keep in mind that it’s okay to say no, whether it be for one more holiday party or one more rich dish at the buffet, Bawer said.

Bawer also recommends that people:

  • Maintain their diets by eating a high-protein, low-carb meal during the day before attending an evening event

  • Indulge in favorite dishes or desserts, but avoid sampling everything on offer

  • Keep your normal sleep schedule, even when traveling, and say no to some invitations if it feels like you’re overextending yourself

  • Avoid binge drinking, sticking to the recommended two drinks for men or one drink for women

  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach

“Small, consistent changes and slowly adding to them can help you reach your health goals,” Bawer said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about healthy holiday habits.

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, Dec. 4, 2023