HEALTHY HOLIDAYS!

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Texas Health Physicians Group

‘Tis the season for celebration with family, friends and co-workers! Along with all of the rejoicing, undoubtedly comes indulging in delicious food. Even the most disciplined adults can struggle with diet temptations during the holiday season. With so many opportunities for socializing and eating, it can be easy to stray from a healthy menu.

So how do you balance good cheer with healthy eating habits? Here are a few tips to help guide you through the holidays without packing on the pounds, sidelining nutrition or going on a guilt trip:

Be realistic. According to the national institutes of health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over an extended period, holiday weight gain can really add up. Rather than trying to shed pounds during the holidays, a better strategy is to focus on maintaining your current weight.

Snack in advance. Before leaving home for a get-together, eat a light snack of raw vegetables or fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge once you get caught up in the festivities. Never skip a meal to balance out over-indulging. Your body will miss the vital nutrients.

Dish up something healthy. When asked to contribute a dish to the festivities bring a healthy side item or provide a low-fat/low-carb version
of a traditional holiday recipe, especially if you are managing diabetes or heart disease. Skim milk, chicken broth and Parmesan cheese are excellent substitutes for whole milk and butter in mashed potatoes. Top your green bean casserole with almonds instead of fried onion rings. Your hostess will welcome the added palate-pleaser and you will have something to fall back on if few other healthy options are available.

Take the focus off food. Turn cookie-baking time with family into a fun non-edible project like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Another idea — try serving a holiday meal to the community or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.

Stay active. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevents weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in your exercise level can help partially offset increased holiday food indulgences. A brisk 10- or 15-minute walk twice a day can help keep your spirits high and your weight in check.

The holidays don’t have to mean poor eating habits if you focus instead on a healthy balance of food, activity and fun as part of your seasonal celebrations.

Enjoy and indulge — within reason!

Texas Health Physicians Group is a network of more than 800 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants dedicated to providing safe, quality care for the communities throughout North Texas. For more information, visit THPG.org.

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