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Happy Healthy Holidays


By Sarah Carvaines, MPH, RD, LD

It’s holiday time! For most of us, the holidays can be jam packed with shopping, parties, and celebrations. This usually means more meals out and rich and tasty holiday dishes. For many people, this can translate into gaining a pound each year which is never lost12. Over the years this can add to cumulative weight gain. So, what can we do to help battle holiday gain and still enjoy this time of year? Try some of the tips below:  1. Always eat a good breakfast. On busy shopping days or holidays filled with snacks and a large meal you may feel the need to skip breakfast, but a balanced meal can help you eat less later on in the day.  2. Eat a balanced snack and drink water prior to events and parties. Try a small snack or mini meal that includes a good source of protein like a hardboiled egg or 1 tablespoon peanut butter along with a carbohydrate like fruit or whole grain crackers. This can help you avoid being overly hungry and help to prevent making a meal out of high fat snacks and appetizers.  3. Make a plan for the party. One idea is to set the number of appetizers to 3 small bites and limit yourself to one plate of all your favorite things. In addition, try to limit yourself to your favorite dessert rather than taking one of each.  4. Enjoy each holiday to its fullest, but avoid eating treats every day.  You may see an endless supply of cookies, candies, and snacks everywhere you go. Try to keep your house free of treats except on the actual holiday. This means only eating more than usual on 3 to 5 days this winter versus 38 days! Once the party is over, send any leftovers with your family and friends and return to your healthy eating plan featuring lots of fruits and veggies.  5. Bring a side dish or dessert that features a fruit or vegetable.  To make sure you have a healthy addition to your holiday meal, bring your own side dish to share. Try one of the recipes below.  6. Don’t forget to move.  You may have even less time to exercise with special events and visitors around, but commit to including activity every day. Some ideas include walking the entire mall even if you are only visiting a few stores, take the stairs, walk around neighborhoods to view lights displays, or take an after-dinner walk with your entire family after eating a large holiday meal.

Now go enjoy time with family and friends.

1 N Engl J Med 2016 Sept 22; 375:1200-1202.  2 N Engl J Med. 2000 Mar 23; 342(12): 861–867.

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