This Year Make the Holidays a Time to Celebrate Health

— Written By Barbara Linder and last updated by Dawn Stone

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a very fulfilling time of year, in more ways than one! On average, Americans gain 2-5 pounds over the holidays. This weight, for most people, stays on and becomes a growing problem, literally!

Before you take another bite of pecan pie, read the following tips from “Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less” (and yours truly) carefully to ensure a more successful start to the New Year, and a holiday that celebrates health.

1. Focus on the reason for the celebration, not the food. Take a moment to live mindfully and focus on family and friends, rather than fruitcake and candy canes!

2. Make less food. This will help everyone with portion control. If there are three or four different types of desserts, you will be tempted to try them all. Limit the dessert choices to just one.

3. Offer healthy options. Offer sparkling water rather than champagne or the holiday toast. Make fruits and vegetables the stars of the holiday meal.

4. Get moving! Incorporate physical activity such as family walks into your celebration. Anything that gets people up and moving is a closer step to being healthier and burning more calories.

5. Re-invent recipes. Just because you have always used heavy cream in your potatoes does not mean it should always be prepared that way. Be creative! Substitute lower calorie ingredients without compromising flavor. Use fresh herbs and toasted spices to add depth and zest without adding calories.

6. Use smaller plates and glasses. This will aid in portion control and trick your eye in to thinking your plate is full (and it probably is, according to the recommended daily amounts)!

7. Do not graze while you are cooking. This will spoil your appetite and add unwanted pounds.

8. Do not skip meals. I do not know how much I can stress the importance of this. Skipping meals causes you to eat more when you do finally eat, and your body to inefficiently use calories when it does finally get them, which leads to weight gain, not weight loss!

9. Choose only foods that you really enjoy and that you only get to eat during the holiday period.

10. Be realistic. Do not try to diet during the holidays. Simply try to maintain and be mindful. Changing your perception about what healthy eating is and moderation through portion control is the best “diet.”

For more information on healthy eating and nutrition, or upcoming nutrition classes, please contact Randolph County Cooperative Extension at 336-318-6000. Happy Holidays!