Top 8 Tips for Staying Healthy Over the Holidays

Jennifer Ventrelle is a nutrition consultant with the Rush Nutrition and Wellness Center and a certified personal trainer. Here are some of her healthy holiday tips:

Don’t try to lose weight over the holidays

  • The average American gains one to four pounds during the holidays
  • Trying to diet during the holidays is setting yourself up for failure
  • Create an achievable goal to maintain weight through the holiday season

Move more! Plan to exercise!

  • Decreased physical activity is the prime contributor to holiday weight gain
  • Almost guaranteed to eat more, so must burn more!
  • People who are more active keep weight stable during the holidays
  • Walk around mall before doing holiday shopping
  • Do sit-ups in between wrapping presents
  • Dance to holiday music
  • Go for a walk outside; the cold air often feels good when bundled up!

Mind your beverages

  • Avoid high-calorie drinks such as hot chocolate, flavored teas, and eggnog. (1 cup eggnog = 350 calories and 20 grams of fat!)
  • Consume alcohol in moderation
    • Drink a glass of water between each drink
    • Try a non-alcoholic mixer complete with garnish
    • Sip plain club soda, mineral water, or tomato juice with a twist of lemon or lime
    • Limit intake and choose lower-calorie alcoholic beverages
      • 12 oz regular beer = 150-200 calories
      • 12 oz light beer = 55-110 calories
      • 8 oz rum and Coke = 250 calories
      • 8 oz rum and Diet Coke = 100 calories
      • 6 oz wine = 130 calories
      • 6 oz sweet/dessert wine = 280 calories
      • Keep a non-caloric drink in hand to prevent reaching for more food

Never go to a party hungry

  • Eat a healthy snack such as yogurt and fruit, apple and peanut butter, or a small bowl of high-fiber cereal 30 minutes before party
  • Fill first plate with entirely vegetables and drink full glass of water; wait 5-10 minutes and then return only one more time for smaller portions of other foods

Don’t be “the host with the most”

  • If hosting the party, set up “carry out station” for people to take leftovers
  • Walk around with food trays, offering seconds or for them to take some home

Contribute to the party; bring a healthy dish

  • Fresh fruit platter with low-fat yogurt
  • Veggie platter with low-fat dip or hummus
  • Baked chips and salsa or guacamole
  • Experiment with different low-fat recipes

Make your holiday recipes healthier

  • Use special sugars such as Splenda for Baking or Equal Sugar Lite
  • Use 2 large egg whites for each egg recipe calls for
  • Use 50 percent applesauce to replace fat in recipes
  • Use 50 percent whole wheat flour to replace white flour in baked goods
  • Add ¼ cup flaxseed to baked goods
  • To enhance flavor, double the vanilla extract, cinnamon, or nutmeg in recipes
  • Cut desserts into smaller pieces and aim to consume fewer pieces

Remember the focus of the holidays

  • Thanksgiving kicks off six weeks of parties, eating, and drinking; focus on spending time with family and friends instead of food and drinks
  • The actual holiDAYS are really only three to eight individual days.  Eating unhealthfully for these individual days won’t cause much damage … extending it for six weeks will
  • Socialize away from the food table; find creative activities or ways to get your family and friends to play a game or be active instead of eating
  • Celebrate outside with flag football, sledding or a snowball fight

Join Ventrelle and psychologist Janine Gauthier for tips on eating, exercising, coping with stress and other holiday-related health matters during a live Rush On Call chat on Rush’s Facebook page at noon on Friday, December 11.

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