Better Living Holiday

ELKTON — Do you find it hard to be healthy during the holidays?

It’s no secret that holiday foods and festivities are very tempting, which makes it challenging to maintain a healthy diet and be physically active like we typically are the rest of the year. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we have the opportunity to enjoy favorite foods and traditions with family and friends once a year, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your holiday favorites to avoid weight gain people sometimes have during this time.

Here’s my healthy holiday check list that you could follow to avoid weight gain, reduce stress and stay mentally and physically healthy throughout the holiday.

Healthy Holiday Checklist

√ Don’t Skip Meals. Skipping meals during the day to save calories for that big party or event in the evening could result in overeating. Eating breakfast is very important because people who do, tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. Including lots of fiber-rich foods which are low in calories and will satisfy hunger.

√ Eat small portions. Holiday meals tend to be large and buffet-style. Enjoy the foods you like but keep the portions small. It’s all about moderation. For example, consume your favorite foods in ½ cup portions but then include some lower calorie foods on your plate like raw veggies and fresh fruits to balance it out. Doing this may help you avoid taking second and third helpings. Also, use smaller plates. A full plate will make you feel satisfied even if you are actually eating less food.

√ Contribute a healthy dish. Whether it’s a neighborhood party or work potluck, bringing a healthy dish ensures there will be at least one nutritious choice available. You may inspire others to do the same

√ Pick your splurges. Think about what are your “must have” holiday foods and choose a few to splurge on instead of foods that you can have any time. For me, it’s festive holiday cookies! Having these treats once a year is fine, but take the time to really taste and enjoy them.

√ Keep moving! The goal for Americans is to be physically active 150 minutes each week. It’s a challenge to set aside time to be active during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, however any movement or activity will help you avoid weight gain. Taking walks before or after meals or on park trails on the weekends, using the stairs at work or parking further away from your work building will all burn those extra calories from holiday foods.

√ Choose drinks wisely. Adding fresh cranberries or raspberries to water, or calorie-free tea or seltzer will add flavor and make them more festive. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation, and alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

√ Don’t feel guilty. Don’t worry if you overindulged at a meal. Forgive yourself and just make sure your next meal is healthy and be sure to include physical activity into your routine.

√ Manage your stress. Take a break if you feel overwhelmed and “disconnect” from the holidays and find a way to relax. Listen to holiday music, take a walk or find support from friends. Most importantly, get plenty of sleep.

Food is a big part of the holiday season, but it does not have to be the focus. This is a time to reunite and celebrate with friends and family. By following and “checking off” some of these tips on the list, you can still enjoy your favorite foods, avoid weight gain and have a healthy start for the new year healthy.

Happy holidays!

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