Holiday and Healthy – Is it Possible?

By Southwest Health Healthbeat Committee

In the midst of this holiday season, we must ask, “Is your healthy lifestyle surviving?” Are you looking for ways to keep capital H for “health” in the holiday season? The average person gains 0.4 to 1.8 pounds (per the New England Journal of Medicine) during the holidays. Unfortunately, this weight isn’t likely to disappear with the holiday cheer. It tends to stick around. So, try these tips to “health” up your holiday season.

  1. Start your day with a balanced breakfast. Breakfast has been associated with a lower BMI (body mass index), fewer calories throughout the day, and a better diet.
  2. Plan your contribution to the holiday meal. There are many fruit or vegetable recipes that provide nutritious, low-calorie alternatives to the many sweet treats you’re sure to encounter. Try fat-free yogurt dips to compliment fruits and vegetables.
  3. Maintain your activity level during the holidays. The holidays are indeed a very busy time, but to maintain your health, incorporate physical activity into your busy days. Take that 10-minute walk outside, use the treadmill for 10, 15, or 30 minutes. Or integrate activity into your daily schedule by parking farther away from the store.
  4. Plan ahead for holiday events. When attending holiday parties, maintain healthy portion sizes. During this time of year, there are simply too many temptations not put in front of you the other eleven months.
  5. Remember portions. Savor smaller servings. Eat slowly to really enjoy that special treat. Prior to attending a party, have a small snack. Or eat some healthy items throughout the day to prevent a ravenous appetite come holiday party time. At a holiday event, concentrate on the people present, rather than the food and drink. Visit, catch-up, and have fun meeting new people.
  6. Rethink your drink. Holiday beverages can be very high in calories and fat (downing one cup of eggnog loads you up with 344 Calories and 19 grams of fat). Consider alternating holiday beverages with water. Choose lower calorie/fat beverages. Or drink a sparkling water.

Now here’s a Holiday fact that’s more frightening than a slippery road on a dark winter’s night: according to the Fiscal Times, a whopping 78% of Americans are not concerned with how many calories they eat over Thanksgiving!

Joan Bahr, MS RD CDE – Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator at Southwest Health says: “It’s okay to give yourself a little extra freedom, however maintaining some balance throughout the day is important. Choose some days to throw in a little extra exercise. Or spread out your food intake throughout the day, rather than eating all of the calories at one time. Make some tradeoffs. Maybe you skip the potatoes, so you can have the special items on the holiday without totally abandoning your dieting goals.”

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