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A Holiday Tradition Of Good Health

Your holiday season may already be in full swing with shopping, baking, and decorating. During the busy holiday season, it is easy to steer away from routines and normal eating patterns. Work parties, children’s holiday performances, and extra chores cause stress that can take time away from your everyday schedule.

Do you find yourself gaining a few pounds every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? It is a common problem. It may seem easy to decide to not gain the extra weight this year, but more difficult in reality. Here are some suggestions to help avoid unwanted extra pounds:

Continue to Exercise

During the holidays don’t forget to maintain your exercise routine. Exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of mood elevators. It also increases your energy level. Being in a better mood and having more energy makes it easier to manage the stress during the busy routines of the holidays. If you need to, increase your exercise to compensate for the extra calories.

Make Health Food Choices

Including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat protein, and dairy choices is essential. MyPlate recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables. They will help you feel more satisfied, which can help you to consume less calories.

Plan Your Weekly Meals

Plan your weekly meals in advance of doing your grocery shopping. Including healthy meals during the week between meals out and festivities will help to balance high calorie meals. Plan meals that are quick and easy to make, such as stir-fry using frozen pre-cut vegetables, baked frozen fish with quick cooking brown rice and vegetables, chicken breast with a microwaved sweet potato and pre-cut salad mix, or an omelet with vegetables, whole-wheat toast, and sliced fruit.

Use Portion Control

Use portion control when indulging in foods that are higher in calories and fat, which are likely to be served during the holidays. Fill up on fruits and vegetables, which will help limit your consumption of foods that are higher in sugar and fat. Fill your plate once and do not go back for more.

Practice Moderation

Practice moderation, not deprivation of your favorite foods. Be choosy about your selections. Making sectional choices will allow you to enjoy the foods you have been waiting all year to taste and help you skip other food items. Most of us have a favorite holiday food we have been waiting to enjoy, and that food can fit into your diet by moderating your potions.

Keep Minimal Baked Goods

Keep minimal baked goods on hand. Holiday baking can add many extra calories, sugar, and fat to our diets. Review your list of cakes, cookies, bars, and candies that you normally make each year. Consider making smaller amounts of each type of treat this year. Everyone can still enjoy his or her favorite treat but there will be less of it.

Be Careful of Liquid Calories

Make the first drink low calorie; save the high-calorie beverage for the end of the occasion. If you are going to have an alcoholic drink, have a glass of ice water after it.

Limit Yourself

Limit yourself to one indulgence per day – not one of everything all at once.

Get Plenty of Rest

Make sleep a priority by aiming to get the needed seven to eight hours a day, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Getting the proper amount of sleep will help you to have increased energy and improve your mood.

The Holidays Are Only Three Days

The holidays are only three days, which are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Feast on these days then go right back to your healthy eating on all other days. The cycle of not enough exercise and too many calories (3500 calories = 1 pound) on the other days causes weight gain during this time of year.

This holiday season create a holiday tradition that gives the gift of good health! Prioritize healthy eating, exercise, and sleep this holiday season. Take a little extra time to plan and think ahead about how you will keep your holidays healthy and active this year and you will find yourself healthier as you greet the New Year on January 1st!


Lights on Christmas tree

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Extension Educator:
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University of Wyoming Extension

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Extension Educator:
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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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