Enjoy the holidays while keeping calories in check

Healthy eating and physical activity can help you survive the busy holiday season.

It’s that time of year! The holidays are coming and for many of us, that means celebrations that include lots of food. For those of us who are trying to lose weight, or maintain weight loss, all of that food can be a challenge. Michigan State University Extension has some tips to help you enjoy your celebrations while keeping calories in check.

Throughout the season, think about ways you can keep active. If you’re out shopping, park a little farther away from the entrance so you can get some extra steps in. Take a lap around the mall before you start shopping. If you start accumulating bags, make a trip to the car to drop them off, then head back in to continue shopping.

Take a break from holiday tasks and go for a walk, even if it’s on the treadmill. A friend of mine heads out for a walk once the Thanksgiving turkey is in the oven. Instead of sitting and watching parades or football games, that family participates in their own physical activity before indulging in the big meal.

What about social occasions that happen during the holidays? If you’re planning to attend a holiday party, think ahead. Consider what will be served at the event. Will you have options? If you’re ordering food, perhaps you can ask that dressings and sauces be served on the side, or you can select a lean meat entrée. A glass of club soda with a little cranberry juice and twist of lemon or lime would be refreshing and lower in calories than an alcoholic beverage.

If you’ll be at someone’s home or another location with a set menu, think about how you might limit appetizers and desserts. If you know a traditional food will be served and you hate to say no to it, plan ahead. Eat lighter earlier in the day so you can “save” calories for later. If you choose to partake in a special dish, eat a reasonable amount and enjoy every bite! Once you’re at the event, make the company of your friends and family your focus, not the food.

Don’t let the break from routine that comes with holidays keep you from tracking your food and your physical activity. Keeping track of the foods you eat can actually help you determine if there is room for a special treat. Taking part in physical activity will give you the energy to complete the extra tasks you have during this time of year.

If the holidays tend to be stressful for you, find ways to relax and take care of yourself. Even a few minutes of deep breathing in the morning and evening can help. Give yourself permission to stop and do something you enjoy each day, even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes. You’ll find that the tasks you have to tackle will be a little easier and you’ll be a little happier! Enjoy this time of year by remembering what it’s all about.

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