Get Healthy Carson City: Keep holiday weight gain in check

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

By now, most of us have probably finished off the last of the Halloween candy, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop focusing on our health. The upcoming holidays can be a minefield of unhealthy eating choices. From the sugar rush of Halloween to the excess of Thanksgiving to the holiday party season leading up to Christmas, overindulgence is common. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. It’s no wonder many people’s New Year’s resolutions focus on losing weight. But why wait until New Years to make healthy choices? Why not take steps to keep your weight in check starting right now?

This holiday season, focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holiday season.

Get out and get moving! Being active helps relieve holiday stress and prevents weight gain. Even a small increase in physical activity, like 10-or-15-minute brisk walks twice a day, can counteract a few extra calories.

Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge if you’re not hungry.

At parties, don’t feel like you have to try every single item on the buffet. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.

Stand more than an arm’s length away from snacks so you’re not tempted to eat mindlessly. Avoid eating while your focus is elsewhere, like on a TV program, since you may eat more if you’re distracted. Those calories can really add up!

Be mindful of how you feel while you’re eating, and stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Take time to enjoy each bite.

Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try playing games, going on a walking tour of decorated homes, or trying a fun winter sport like snowshoeing or ice skating.

If you’re concerned about a lack of healthy options, bring your own dish to a holiday gathering. Many potluck gatherings offer a great opportunity to share a healthy dish.

Practice healthy holiday cooking. Prepare favorite dishes that are lower in fat and calories. Swap in healthy substitutes, like adding Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or using applesauce instead of oil or butter in baked goods recipes.

Don’t wait until the holidays are over. Get a jump-start on your New Year’s resolution by choosing to be healthy right now. Making healthy choices doesn’t mean sacrificing fun or having to give up your favorite holiday treats. Eat in moderation, be physically active, and enjoy this most wonderful time of the year.

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