Healthy Holiday Tips: Surviving Stress & Food Temptations

Tis the season to eat and be merry! And boy do we eat!  The good news is that according to research, the average person attends 4 holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Years and gains less than one pound. The bad news is that this weight tends to stick with us as we pack on more in the next year.  Now is an ideal time to balance holiday indulgences with sensible eating.  Instead of focusing on what foods and beverages to avoid, we should enjoy eating delicious nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese which provides us with us with key vitamins and minerals that Americans are lacking.
  
Give into temptation some, but reduce your portions. Reducing calorie intake requires learning how to ‘perfect your portions.’ Selecting small portions allows you to control your calorie intake yet sample the different tastes of each items offered. If you are hosting a party, consider a tasting party for your guests. A tasting party offers appetizers, desserts and beverages in smaller, easier to handle party pieces.

Nosh (snack) on nutrient-rich foods. When you are navigating a holiday buffet, fill half your plate with brightly colored fruits & vegetables from the crudités tray. Choose a few cubes of cheese from the cheese platter with whole grain crackers. Then, round out your plate with lean protein such as sliced turkey or roast beef. Remember many favorite holiday foods are considered nutrient rich:  Cranberries are high in vitamin C and antioxidants; nuts are a great source of protein, fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated fat; sweet potatoes boost vitamin A and beta carotene; and cheese provides a unique combination of nutrients, including calcium and protein.
 
Whether it’s a holiday or a work day, we should never take a vacation from exercise.  Physical activity can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn extra calories from holiday eating.   If you find it hard to stick to an exercise routine, work exercise into your holiday preparations:  instead of online shopping, walk around the mall. Make time with your family to enjoy a walk around the neighborhood to view the decorations. For good health, we need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every day, including holidays.  

RELAX! – When you start to feel stressed out take a hot bath, a walk, or whatever activity helps calm you. If you manage your stress, it will help you manage your eating too!

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