a christmas tree made out of healthy food sits atop a blackboard

Live Vibrantly - December 19, 2019

Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday

Tips from Goodwin House Dietitians & Fitness Staff

During the holiday season, we often find ourselves with too many food options, for too many days in a row. Among all the celebrations, it can be challenging to decide what to eat and when to say no. But there are ways for us to have both a happy and healthy holiday!

Small Choices. Big Changes.

Saba Barkneh, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Goodwin House Alexandria, encourages you to consider your health goals for the holiday season, whether it’s avoiding overeating, staying active, connecting with others, reducing stress or preventing weight gain.

“I recommend you plan to buy healthy groceries, cook at home, schedule regular physical activity and set aside some quiet time for yourself,” said Saba. “Celebrations do not have to derail your lifestyle. You have plenty of opportunities to follow your plan and stay healthy!”

According to Saba, look for opportunities to make healthy choices and feel good about them. Small choices really can make big changes. “Be mindful of your eating. Slow down to really taste and enjoy your food,” Saba shared. “Eating slowly also allows your body time to signal your brain when you are full. If you eat too much too quickly, your brain does not get the message of satisfaction.”

Maintain. Don’t Gain.

Joining forces for holiday health and fitness, Registered Dietitian, Alison Liggett, and Manager of Fitness and Wellness Programs, Sherry Compton, have started a program called “Maintain! Don’t Gain!” at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads.

For the second year in a row, Alison and Sherry are encouraging both the residents and staff to work together and support each other to promote healthy eating and exercise during the holidays. They offer these tips for keeping holiday eating a bit more under control.

Top Tips for a Healthy Holiday

Tip #1: Planning to have a big celebratory dinner? Focus first on a healthy breakfast. Choose something simple, like fruit and yogurt with granola. Many people forget to eat, which can lead to a overeating due to increased hunger.

Tip #2: Going to a holiday potluck? Ensure that at least one item will be nutritious. Hummus with whole wheat pita or a vegetable platter with a Greek yogurt dip are great ideas!

Tip #3: Out of sight out of mind! Store holidays treats in a cabinet. Only bring them out when you plan to eat them, and take only what you plan to eat. Put the rest away before you sit down to enjoy!

Tip #4: Listen to your body! Eat until you are satisfied, not full. Before reaching for a second helping, wait about 15 minutes to see if you are still hungry. Remember: Leftovers are great!

Tip #5: Channel your holiday spirit into activities that don’t focus on food, such as volunteering with community groups, crafting decorations, singing carols or writing cards to loved ones.

Tip #6: Maintain healthy habits most of the time, and you won’t have to be stressed about one or two days that you decide to break those habits. What you do most of the time has the biggest impact on your health.

Tip #7: Choose hot drinks that are free of sugar and fat. Most days, brew holiday tea or coffee with no added sugar, and limit cream and milk. Choose special times to enjoy hot chocolates, ciders and creamy coffees.

Tip #8: As you move into the New Year, think about what you can do to benefit your health. Include vegetables in most meals, eat breakfast most mornings and limit your intake of sugar on most days. By maintaining healthy habits most of the time, you will be able to maintain your weight long term.

Stay Positive!

Despite all the health pitfalls that are possible during this season of excess, don’t forget to stay positive! Praise yourself for small successes. Each moment that you choose something health to eat or exercise adds up over time.

“Don’t get discouraged,” stated Saba. “If you eat more on some days, eat less on others. If you miss a workout, exercise a little longer the next day.”

As we’ve all heard before, everything in moderation – especially during the holiday season! So go on and have yourself a happy and healthy holiday!

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