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Healthy Holiday Primer

It is the time of year when the days are getting shorter, the air takes on a chill, and suddenly the holidays are quickly approaching.

The next few months will be filled with family gatherings, dinners, and holiday parties of all kinds.

So, how do you negotiate this season of festivity without compromising your healthy habits (and your waist line)?

Find balance:

This might be the most important tip. It is easy to decide to just give up on healthy habits during the holidays, and hope to make up for it later. Instead, try and stay on track as much as possible, and allow that there will be certain times that you may indulge a bit (pumpkin pie for breakfast?).

Moderation not deprivation:

This is one of my favorite phrases. A diet won’t ever succeed if you feel like you are depriving yourself, and how fun is a holiday party if you only allow yourself to eat celery sticks? Find a recipe for a healthy dip or side dish that you can contribute, and then allow yourself one pass at the buffet to try a little bit of the other offerings. When you are done, toss your plate to keep you from being tempted to go for seconds (or thirds).

Don’t starve yourself beforehand:

You may think that starving yourself all day before a holiday gathering can “buy you” extra calories for later, but this just isn’t true. The best thing that you can do is eat a healthy breakfast and lunch just as you normally would. If you skip eating before a party, you are much more likely to overindulge and to make poor choices.

Beware of your beverage choices:

Hot chocolate, hot toddy’s, and eggnog, oh my! Holiday drinks can be just as dangerous to your diet as the food. Avoid these extra rich, calorie-laden drinks and look for healthier options. Try making spritzers with soda water and a splash of juice. Or, trying making some homemade apple cider with no-sugar added apple juice mulled with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange slices.

Plan some fun:

Of course food is a big part of the focus, but try adding in some fun and creative activities. Create a scavenger hunt, bring on the board or other games (twister, anyone?), or get outside and play some flag football before dinner. These will add to the fun for everyone!

Breathe and enjoy:

More than anything else, try to let the holidays be a time of joy. It can be too easy to get caught up in shopping, planning, and scheduling. Be sure to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, find time for exercise, and don’t let stress derail you from you goals!

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