HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is encouraging residents and patients to enjoy the holiday season and watch the waistline. The months of November and December can be a challenging time to make healthy choices and limit weight gain, but eating well during the holidays is possible.
The hospital recommends the following 10 health tips:
Start your day off right. If you plan on treating yourself later, start your day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruit, low-fat or fat-free dairy and protein like eggs, ham or peanut butter.
Don’t starve yourself beforehand. Rather, eat a small, lower-calorie meal or snack such as fruit, nuts or a few whole grain crackers so you aren’t tempted to overdo your calorie intake for the day.
Avoid snacking throughout the day. Abide by the “out of sight, out of mind” slogan. Once you’ve filled your plate with food, cover up the food and put it away.
Be mindful. Keep a mental checklist of how much you’re consuming and make a conscious effort to balance your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies. Choose carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample and those you will skip.
Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating and many alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
Don’t rush to eat. Focus on friends and conversation, not on the food. Socialize and settle into the festivities before you make your plate. Move the socializing away from the buffet or appetizer trays as this will minimize unconscious nibbling.
Be a great guest. Helping the host with dishes or serving drinks allows you to be active and provides time away from the food. Your host will think you’re great and it will help you stay true to your eating plan.
Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating.
Reduce the spread of germs. One of the best ways to prevent infection is to wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or touching the eyes or nose. If you’re at a party where common serving utensils are being shared, don’t use your fingers to eat. Get your own utensils, and don’t share glasses.
Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house.