Making healthy choices this holiday season

Kanchan Pillai, MD, FACP, FOMA

        As the year comes to an end, holiday celebrations are filling up our busy social calendars and our plates with holiday treats. But don’t worry. There are ways to enjoy the holidays and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
        Moderation is key
        It is easy to consume more calories than usual during the holidays with all the feasts and celebrations we attend. But there is no need to swear off your favorite holiday foods. Remember that any food is okay in moderation. You just need a plan to get you through those parties.
        Before filling your plate, take a walk around the food table to see your choices. This can help reduce the amount of food you put on your plate. Also, fill up on vegetables and fruits before going for calorie-dense main courses and desserts. Even something as small as drinking a glass of water before sitting down to eat can make a difference in your appetite.
        Use healthy alternatives when cooking
        There are several healthy changes that can be made to your favorite recipes that no one will notice.
        • Use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil in baked goods. One cup of oil is equal to one cup of applesauce.
        • Replace sour cream with non-fat plain Greek yogurt in your favorite holiday dips.
        • Be mindful of the amount of butter you use. Butter is very high in calories A single tablespoon of butter has around 100 calories. Instead, try a low-calorie spray instead.
        • Loading up on healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and lean meats can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
        Manage stress
        The holidays can bring out a lot of emotions for people. For example, for some, the stress of the holiday season increases their blood pressure. And we know high blood pressure increases our risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
        So, focus on managing your stress. Exercising, deep breathing, meditating and talking to a close friend or family member are all things that can help relieve stress. And, if it gets to be too much, it’s okay to seek professional support for help with managing feelings of stress.
        Kanchan Pillai, MD, FACP, FOMA is ProMedica Physicians Director of Obesity Medicine.


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