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Topics > Healthy Outlook > Holiday Eating Tips Help You Stay Healthy

Holiday Eating Tips Help You Stay Healthy

Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Fri, Dec. 29, 2006

By Gwen White

Don't wait until New Year's to resolve to be healthier. Start now because overeating is easy to do during the holidays thanks to all the tempting treats. The old saying "calories in versus calories out" holds truest this time of year.

Set some eating boundaries for yourself, and try to get some exercise in so all the food doesn't turn into fat. You can eat some of everything, but only a little of everything.

A balanced diet and active lifestyle not only help you maintain your weight, but also help control your cholesterol level.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many serious diseases and health problems, such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

And don't forget children during the holidays. With childhood obesity increasingly becoming a problem, set some boundaries for your children as well and limit the number of sweets they eat.

Use the following tips to help you resist the urge to bury your face in the turkey and gravy.

  • Eat what you really want, but in moderation. You can be satisfied with a smaller amount than you think.
  • Use a smaller plate; you'll put less food on it. If you really want to lose weight, fit your whole meal on a saucer. And no seconds.
  • Don't show up starving to holiday parties.
  • At holiday potlucks, make sure there are healthy options like marinated vegetables as a side dish, fresh veggies as appetizers and fruit. Find recipes to make healthier dishes just as fun and flavorful.
  • Mix 100 percent fruit juices with sparking water for a festive beverage.
  • Choose lower-fat options, like lowfat eggnog.
  • Take a break and determine if you're full.
  • Get those daily 41/2 cups of fruits and vegetables in. Have cut-up veggies with low-fat dip available, make a salad with the leftover turkey, or have a piece of fruit for a snack.
  • Take healthy snacks along on holiday shopping and errands so you won't have to rely on fast food to satisfy your hunger.

Stress levels often increase during this time, and being physically active can reduce stress as well as burn some of those extra calories you are taking in.

You should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily (60 minutes for children). Make exercise fun. Be a little creative - take a walk with the family after meals or incorporate some stretching or some fun dance moves at the holiday office party.

Other physical activities you can do include:

  • Play tag with your children.
  • Walk your dog; make it an everyday family activity.
  • Break up your daily 30 minutes of exercise into shorter periods of time. Housework, chores and gardening all count.
  • Do what you can. Even a daily 15- to 20-minute walk will help you control your weight.
  • By being mindful of what you eat and how much you move now, you can still eat, drink, be merry, and be ready for 2007.

More information on exercise tips, nutrition and healthy recipes is available online at Contra Costa Health Services' Web site or Recipes are available in English and Spanish.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season.

White is a health education specialist with Contra Costa Health Services Community Wellness & Prevention Program.

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