Meadville Tribune

Our Health

December 14, 2011

Christmas feasting: Enjoy but don't go overboard



There is contradiction between my twinkling Christmas tree and the window behind it filled with green grass and sunshine. Yet the holidays are upon us and you may see contradiction in your health goals and your actions this month as you find yourself not getting your exercise in, and grocery shopping for treats, cooking, baking and...eating; possibly too much.

I am not a scrooge, but I do know that weight control becomes more challenging with age, and evermore important in terms of health. I know that most people feel better when they are at a healthy weight, and that gaining holiday pounds can put them in an unnecessary funk. Using the holidays as an excuse to overeat is not a good idea. Planning enjoyable meals with family and friends is a great idea however, and you can enjoy the month without gaining the pounds you have worked so hard to take off this past year.

Weight control through the holidays is a 30-day trial, not a once a week thing. Consider these tips every day this month:

Slow Down and Enjoy What You Eat. If you scarf down your food too quickly, you can't enjoy it. If you mindlessly eat things that you don't even like that much, not only are you not enjoying them, but you are also eating useless calories. Take your time to choose the foods you really enjoy, have small portions of them, and slow down your eating to savor each bite.

Buy Less Food and Beverages. In these tight economic times, it's wise to shop each week for what you really need. Having more in the house than you can realistically consume invokes temptation to consume too much. My husband just brought home a mega-box of crackers from a warehouse store. I'm not sure we'll be able to eat them all unless we invite about 500 people over. So crackers won't need to be on my holiday shopping list at all this month (or possibly the next 4 months). Buy what you need for the crowd you are going to be serving. You'll save money and limit the temptation of eating more than you need to.

Move More, or Just as Much. Stick with your exercise routine and don't let anything get in the way of it. If your day is extra hectic with meetings or extra errands to run, do your best to fit in at least twenty minutes of walking or a short gym routine. Be as active as you can in your day to day routine as well - park once, walk more; take the steps more often at work. Get creative: Do ten minutes of yoga before bed, and 25 jumping jacks when you get up in the morning.

Make it from Scratch. There is so much convenience tempting you everywhere you look in the grocery store. If you set a new goal to make more things from scratch, not only will you save money, but you'll save calories too. But the best part about it? Whatever you make will taste so much more delicious.

Make this time of year a time to take care of yourself first. This means making time for physical activity (or getting back in shape) and eating well so that you can have the energy to do what you need to do and enjoy life around you.  Eat well, choose well, and be well. Happy wishes for good health and a beautiful holiday season.

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