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Dec 10

Be Merry, Stay Healthy: Tips to Avoid Packing Pounds This Holiday Season

The holiday season has special meaning to many of us, but it often turns into the season of “too much”. Around the holidays, it becomes difficult to avoid the extra socializing, feasts, and sweet treats that test our will power to maintain healthy eating habits. Here are some helpful tips to avoid over-indulging and packing the holiday pounds.

While there are only a couple of weeks left in the season, most of us will be spending that time at work or on the go, so here is our first tip:

Keep Healthy Food Handy
It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon — maybe you’re in the office or shopping for gifts — and mid-afternoon hunger is starting to set in. There’s a plate of holiday goodies in the break room or the aroma of fresh baked cookies at the treat boutique. Who could possibly resist diving in?

Now there’s no need to deprive yourself of every holiday treat over the season, but limiting yourself to one or two treats a day can be done with very little planning. Prepare to fight those inevitable “need-to-snack” periods by having a bag of cut fruit or vegetables handy. One serving (about a palmful), will help you fill up and prevent one holiday treat from turning into two or three. Don’t forget to also keep a bottle of water handy; this way, you are not tempted to quench your thirst with a high-calorie drink.

Avoid Skipping Meals
Just as you shouldn’t go grocery shopping  on an empty stomach, you shouldn’t hit the holiday party circuit on one either. If you go to a dinner party hungry, you are likely to consume more calories than anticipated. In addition, your body will respond to calorie deprivation by holding onto the calories you consume for a longer period of time. Try eating a light and heart-healthy meal or snack prior to your visit. 

Be Vigilant At The Buffet Line
Before you start packing your plate at the buffet, do a walk-through and look for some health-friendly options first (lean proteins and vegetables). When we don’t have a plan at the buffet line, we tend to try “a little bit of everything” and are tempted to pile up on high calorie foods.

Size Does Matter
Keep an eye out for over-sized food and desserts portions. For example, if you see an array of cupcakes in various sizes, opt for the mini version, which will only pack around 100 calories. If only larger sizes are available, offer to share half of your cupcake with a friend or coworker, since most sweets are over-sized and pack 500-plus calories.

Get Moving 
Even if your schedule upsets your regular exercise routine, do something — don’t get caught up thinking it’s an hour at the gym or nothing. If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, find ways to incorporate extra physical activity into your plans. You don’t have to force yourself into the gym — get your family involved and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood; pump up the holiday music and dance; take a trip to the mall — all of these activities will burn calories!

Dr. Vinita’s Take:
Exercising before having a meal is like having a pre-paid Visa Card: you won’t have to worry about adding on hours to your regular exercise routine later. My favorite way to exercise before a big meal is by taking a Zumba class. I have a blast doing their Latin-inspired dances, and I burn plenty of calories while doing so.

Besides exercising, I’ve found that it Is very important to keep my schedule under control. If you have a lot on your plate plate figuratively speaking, plan to see a lot on your my plate literally speaking! I advise that you don’t over book yourself with too many activities. When I don’t cram my schedule full, I am able to slow-down and make more health-conscious decisions, as well as enjoy and savor quality time with loved ones.

Also, keep in mind that if you haven’t been on Santa’s naughty list by maintaining a healthy lifestyle all winter, then it is okay to take a day or two to splurge.

Want To Make Being Healthy Your New Year’s Resolution?
Peace Medical Center can help you achieve your 2013 goals, in a healthy manner, by assessing your BMI and body fat percentages. Using this information, our providers can create a dietary counseling plan tailored to your needs! Call (864) 233-2744 for more information.

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