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Ho, Ho, Ho-ld Off on the Bad Habits This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season for family, festivity, and food—lots of food. The holidays dish up a triple whammy of wintry weather, irresistible foods, and stress, which can cause even the strongest-willed person to reach for another festive goodie.

While the notion of enjoying “healthy holidays” has a nice ring to it, reaching that goal can be very challenging.  Between the endless social gatherings and the to-do lists that seem longer than Santa’s list of names, balancing the season’s obligations often means that our diets take a backseat until the New Year.

If you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle this holiday season, you may be wondering what foods you should prepare and how to stay on track with your goals.

Here are six tips for savoring a healthier holiday season:

  • Portions Matter – Eat slowly and mindfully and opt for smaller portions. Also, avoid going back for seconds; your body needs time to feel full so give yourself 20 minutes before you reach for more.
  • Fit in Favorites – No food is on the naughty list. Deprivation leads to backlash – it’s better to have a plan and do it on purpose.  In advance, plan for the indulgences that matter most to you so you can be sure to savor a small serving of Aunt Carol’s pie!
  • Make Movement Merry – Be active after a big meal; not only does activity help you burn off some calories but you may also feel more energized. Exercise is the secret to holding the (waist)line when holidays indulgences call. Choose fun activities like ice skating or sledding with friends and family or take a walk with family after a holiday meal.
  • Include Some Healthy Options – A platter of raw veggies or fruit with a low-fat dip can be a colorful and healthier alternative to a tray of sliced cheese, deli meats and crackers. Or replace the cheese dip with a bowl of cold large shrimp with cocktail sauce.
  • Try a New Tradition – You may not be the only person at the gathering trying to maintain healthy eating goals. Why not try a healthier recipe that may become a new tradition?
  • Get Your Zzz’s – Going out more and staying out later means cutting back on your sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to manage your blood sugar, and when you’re sleep deprived, you’ll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food.  Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night to guard against mindless eating.

Set an example for your children. By incorporating some of these ideas, you can create healthy traditions for your kids. As these traditions are passed down from one generation to the next, your family will learn that it’s possible to make positive lifestyle choices while still enjoying the holiday season.

Remember, a healthy holiday makeover doesn’t require drastic changes to have a significant impact. Modifying a few choices and behaviors can lead to health benefits that can last a lifetime of happy, healthy holidays.