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Food & Health News

Happy, healthy holiday tips - Get up and move

photo of older couple riding bicycles

The holiday season is a festive time of the year, and those festivities usually include special foods. Is it any wonder that most adults will gain one to two pounds between November and January? The bad news is the one to two pounds becomes permanent for most people. It may not seem like much, but when we gain that much year after year, it eventually leads to overweight and obesity. It is possible to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, but it takes some planning and preparation.

Happy, healthy holiday tips - Focus on energy balance

photo of woman considering amount of exercise for apple

Think in terms of calorie balance. You will need to walk for 15 minutes or jog for 10 to use up the calories in one holiday cookie. If you are not willing to put in the extra work to use up those calories, perhaps the food you are contemplating eating is not worth it. Save the calories for something that you really want.

Happy, healthy holiday tips - Watch beverage intake

photo of man shopping for beverages

Many traditional celebrations include special beverages, and these beverages can make it more difficult to manage weight. Eggnog can contain as many as 400 calories in a cup. Hot chocolate, holiday punch and apple cider are high in sugar and provide additional calories that we may not think about. Moderate alcohol consumption before a meal leads to an increase in food intake in addition to the calories found in the beverage. Plan to limit your intake of high calorie beverages to special occasions and alternate with water or other sugar-free choices.

Happy, healthy holiday tips - Alter your environment

photo of cookie tin and cookies

We know in our hearts that despite our best intentions we will want to eat the foods we associate with celebrations. Save those foods for times of celebration with friends and family. If you prepare them at home, freeze them or put them in sealed containers out of sight until time to serve them. At a party, fill your plate as you wish, then walk away from the buffet table. Find someone interesting to talk to and forget about the food for a while.

Happy, healthy holiday tips - Fill up with fiber

photo of various food high in fiber such as apples, oatmeal and berries

Foods that are high in fiber are the ones that fill us up quicker and keep us feeling full longer. You can get the fiber that you need from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. They satisfy our hunger in two ways: by filling our stomachs and by providing essential nutrients to nourish our bodies. If you fill up on these foods, you will be giving your body the fuel that it needs and you will be satisfied with fewer treats.

Happy, healthy holiday tips - Fill up with water-filled foods

photo of woman's hands as she chops a carrot and other vegetables

Our bodies are accustomed to a certain volume of food, and we tend to eat until we eat enough volume. Studies done at Penn State University have shown that people who begin a meal with a large, low-fat salad or a clear, broth-based soup tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t have anything before the meal. Use this strategy before a big dinner or a party and have a salad or a cup of soup with lots of veggies before you go. If dinner is at your house, begin with a soup course.