Healthy eating during the holiday season

By Kimberly Allbritton

‘Tis the season to eat, eat, eat. Every commercial ad encourages us to offer and consume food at holiday parties. If you don’t have time to cook, you are urged to purchase fast food for the family and don’t worry about it. Most people gain five to ten pounds during the holidays, and people with special health problems have an increased likelihood to have a medical issue.
We would like to offer some healthy eating tips to help you through the season. These tips will work no matter your health status. However, if you have an underlying medical condition, you should discuss any issues with your doctor. The theme for these recommendations is to limit the intake. Sometimes you just need to eat the food and enjoy. The trick is to limit the number of occasions, limit the amount of food and not indulge every day.
Party Time
• Continue to eat meals at your regular times. If you are attending a party later, eat a healthy snack at your meal time and eat less food at the party.
• Do not skip a meal so you can eat more at the party. This is how most people overeat.
• Bring a healthy dish that you like to offer at the party.
• Limit carbohydrates. If you choose a sweet dessert, then choose not to eat another type of carb like pasta, potatoes or bread.
• If you end up eating too much, take a deep breath and restart your healthy eating the next day.

The 20-Acre Buffet
• Start with a plate of vegetables, eat those, then return for other items.
• Pick the smallest plate and fill it with foods you like.
• Eat slowly to give your brain time to let you know you are full. It usually takes 20 minutes.

Move Along
• Being active will burn some calories and reduce holiday stress.
• Take a group walk with family or friends after a holiday meal.
• Break up your physical activity into blocks of ten minutes several times a day.

Sleep
• Try to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.
• People who do not get enough sleep tend to choose high-fat and high-sugar foods.

Here are a couple of suggestions that you can try wherever you are.
• Avoid or limit alcohol, and have food available if you do drink.
• Cut your portion size by about 25 percent when you do choose to eat your favorite holiday foods.
• Focus on the three “F’s”, friends, family and fun, and less on the fourth “F” food.

Our January articles will be about tobacco cessation and other New Year’s resolutions. If you have been able to quit tobacco and would like to share why you quit and how you did it, please send your story to Debbie Snapp at ECB Publishing, or to DOH-Jefferson email at JeffersonCHD@ flhealth.gov, or by calling Pam Beck at (850) 973-0354. We will not print your name unless you would like to be identified.
We wish everyone a joyous holiday season and best wishes for the New Year.