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Dietician Digest: 15 Ways to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

It’s safe to say that this holiday season will be different than any other. Health and safety are at the top of everyone’s mind, and going into this holiday season, it’s important that we make changes that will help this season be a little healthier than holiday seasons of the past. The following tips will help you make this holiday season your healthiest yet:


1. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. Coronavirus isn’t the only bug in town now – it’s also flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.


2. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.


3. Eat early. Don't skip breakfast. Don’t let last night’s big meal keep you from having a healthy breakfast today, and every day. If you don’t commit to breakfast, you may spend the rest of the day overeating.


4. Graze. Eat small meals throughout the day. It helps you keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady. You'll be less likely to feel moody or stressed, and you’ll be less likely to overeat at gatherings. Also, if you don’t have an empty stomach, alcohol won't hit you as hard.


5. Work out. Exercise keeps your metabolism going, helps you digest and burn off calories, and can stabilize your mood.


6. Stay hydrated. Choose water or low-calorie drinks. A handy tip: Twenty ounces of water 20 minutes before each meal keeps you hydrated while reducing cravings and calories when you eat.


7. Embrace the season. Enjoy the festive holiday fare you can't get any other time of year, like stuffing and pumpkin pie. Have those special foods in small amounts but avoid other things that you can get all year, like mashed potatoes.


8. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures, and refrigerate foods promptly.


9. Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Keep your immune system strong! Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.


10. Visit the people, not the food. Move socializing away from the buffet or appetizer table to prevent mindless eating. Catch up with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while.


11. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. No one likes that icky, stuffed feeling after a meal. Eat slowly and check your fullness levels while you’re eating. Remember — there are always leftovers!


12. Do it yourself. Bring your own amazing, low-cal dish. Make your contribution something super healthy and extremely tasty that you love. If all the other offerings are too rich or fatty, you can rely on your own cooking.


13. Take stock. When holiday cravings hit, stop and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Just a few seconds might reveal that you’re really just tired or sad, or feeling something else that's not hunger. A quick internal check-in can spare you some unwanted calories.


14. Don’t feel guilty. If you did overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. Just make sure your next meal is healthy and be sure to incorporate exercise into your routine.


15. Breathe and have fun. Remember that the holidays are about spending time with relatives and friends. Take a deep breath, smile, and connect.


- Christi Bowling, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD

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