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Keep Fit During the Holiday Season

December 6, 2018

The holidays seem to always come upon us so quickly.  Already busy schedules become more overwhelming when decorating, shopping for gifts, extra food preparation and holiday parties are added.  Even those individuals who exercise on a regular basis may start to feel stretched with finding time to work out.  Additionally, there are more dietary temptations at this time of the year, and these can throw off even the most well-managed calorie budget.

One of the keys to calorie management is staying as physically active as you can and add in small bits of extra activity when possible. Here are some ways to incorporate more activity during this holiday season:

Enjoy the holiday lights as you walk through the neighborhood rather than drive.

Purchase gifts centered around being more active – shoes, clothes, water bottles, exercise bands, light weights, work-out DVDs, gym memberships, classes, active getaways, etc.

Attempt to walk more for shopping.  Make a habit of walking the whole mall or favorite “superstore” before you start shopping.

Get adequate sleep so you don’t wake up too tired to work in physical activity.

Try to do at least one activity each day.  Clean the house, walk the mall, walk at lunch…  Some activity is better than no activity at all.

Stay moving on your lunch break.

Consider getting up on each commercial break to walk in place or do a lap in your house during your favorite holiday movies/television programs. 

If you don’t currently exercise on a regular basis, make it your “New Year Plan” to start now.  Physical activity helps you handle stress from the holidays, and it will help you keep your weight in check while you still enjoy your favorite foods. 

Just 15 minutes a day…

Adding 15 minutes of walking to your schedule each day can use up to 100 extra calories per day. Generally, your body uses about 100 calories of energy to walk one mile, depending on your body weight.  If you were to maintain this schedule each day of the week, you potentially could use up 700 calories per week just by making this small change.  That can help to absorb the impact of some of those favorite holiday foods.

A word about holiday traditions…

We all have traditional holiday foods that show up on the table year after year.  Here are five easy tips to help you handle that situation more healthfully and not use it as an excuse for high fat, high calorie eating:

Tip #1: Control portions.  Use smaller plates and bowls.  Cut desserts into more servings.  Make the recipe for cookies equal 4 dozen instead of 3.  In other words, make smaller cookies.  Cut the fudge into 1” x 1” pieces this year.

Tip #2: Eat double the amount of vegetables, especially those lower in carbohydrate.  Put higher carbohydrate vegetables in smaller bowls and use smaller serving spoons.  Your family and guests will automatically, and without even knowing it, serve themselves smaller portions.  Feature vegetables as your appetizers.

Tip #3: Give healthful gifts.  Make homemade gifts that are packed with healthful ingredients.  Or make homemade gifts that are not food-based.

Tip #4: Lighten up favorite recipes.  Use fat-free evaporated skim milk instead of cream in desserts and sauces.  Reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt called for in recipes.  Boost flavor with spices and seasonings instead of butter and salt.  Bake foods instead of frying them.

Tip #5: Make fruit the star.  Put chunks of colorful fruit on skewers.  Use small pieces of fruit as appetizer items instead of sausage, cheese and crackers.

To find out more information on how to have a healthy holiday, contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or MT_dietitians@unitypoint.org.

Click here to find out more information about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s Outpatient nutrition services. 

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