Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

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Eating healthy is not a diet. It is a lifestyle and one that can be enjoyed throughout the holidays.

Story by Ann Butenas

“When what to my wandering eyes should appear, but 10 extra pounds on my hips, thighs, and rear.”  While we all want to have a great time during the holidays, we highly suspect no one wants to become too familiar with that sentiment. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, but when we come out the other side in January, bringing extra pounds with us should not be the goal. Instead, it is important to arm ourselves with great tips – and a heaping helping of willpower – to stave off any unwanted baggage while still having fun and appreciating everything the season has to offer us.

As we dive into the spirit of the holidays, it is easy to be tempted by all of the various goodies and treats that come our way. “Just one bite” won’t hurt me can soon become, “Why did I eat a dozen gingerbread cookies this week?” So, in order to ward off any disaster when it comes to your eating habits over the holidays, it helps to begin the season of indulgence with a game plan in mind.


Starter Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

1)   Eat regular meals. When you skip meals, you can succumb to overeating later in the day.

2)   Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is important to a healthy lifestyle.

3)   Before enjoying a holiday meal, have a protein-rich snack, such as peanut butter on celery or a slice of cheese.

4)   When you eat during this time of year, say to yourself, “Eat the best and leave the rest.”

5)   You don’t have to starve yourself or refrain from some of your favorite dishes or foods. Simply enjoy them in moderation.

6)   Stay active throughout the holiday season. Go for daily walks. Hop on the treadmill or stationary bike. Put on some of your favorite tunes and dance around the living room. Movement matters.


Food, Food, and More Food

As you celebrate the festivities with family and friends, food will definitely be a significant part of the equation. No matter where you turn, temptation will lure you in. The challenge will be that this will go on for several weeks, not just for a day or two. So, are you ready to holiday-proof your eating plan? While you may not always be able to control the types of food you are served at various events, you can approach how you enjoy them.

First of all, be sure to eat at your usual times during the day to maintain your blood sugar. If you are going to a dinner event that is later than your normal dinner time, be sure to have a small snack at your usual mealtime and then eat a little bit less at dinner.

If you are invited to a party, offer to bring one of your favorite healthy dishes. And if you absolutely have to have that iced cookie or that slice of cake, then cut back on other carbohydrates, such as bread or potatoes.

What if you attend a holiday event and there is a buffet? We all know the inherent dangers of overdoing it in this regard. Again, prepare yourself in advance so you don’t set yourself up for failure.  Grab a smaller plate and fill it with the foods you enjoy best and then walk away from the buffet. Ideally, fill your plate with vegetables. These will actually help to reduce your appetite while still giving you a healthy boost. Further, be sure to eat slowly. There is a lag time of about 20 minutes between your stomach and the time it takes for your brain to realize you are full.

Also, while raising a glass for a celebratory toast is something to which you might look forward, refrain from consuming alcohol as much as possible. If you do drink, be sure to have it with your food. Alcohol can lower your blood sugar and, if you are diabetic, it can interfere with any medications you may be taking.



Oh, Fudge! Do I Have to Refrain from Eating My Favorite Treats?

Yes, you can still enjoy some of your favorite foods during the holidays. For many of us, this is the one time of the year we get to enjoy our aunt’s famous pie or our mom’s mouth-watering fudge.  It’s okay to enjoy a small portion. Just be sure to slow down and savor it, however.  Make it a moment to enjoy. If gobbled up too quickly, you won’t even give yourself the chance to fully appreciate the flavor and the experience.



Get Moving and Get Your Zzzzzs

No matter what you do this holiday season, it is important to remain active. The holidays are a busy time of year, but it is important to squeeze in some regular exercise. In addition to helping you make up for eating more than you normally would, it can also assist you in combating holiday stress.

Getting enough sleep is equally important. Undoubtedly, this time of year can wreak havoc on your normal routine, and getting to bed at your usual time may not always be accomplished. Further, when you suffer from sleep loss, it can make you crave higher-fat and higher-sugar foods. Ideally, you should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Most importantly, remind yourself the holidays are not just about the food and treats. This is a time to celebrate moments with loved ones while creating memories to last a lifetime. Focus on activities that don’t involve food, such as playing board games, losing yourself in the pages of a good book, having a fun sing-along, or decorating the house together.

Sources: robinskey.com and cdc.gov
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