By Laura Hennen - Public Relations Principal | Digital and Social Engagement

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Balance small indulgences with healthy habits this holiday season

December 21, 2017

The holidays are a time meant to be filled with good cheer. For most of us, that often comes in the form of sharing a meal— and probably a few indulgent snacks and sweets— with family and friends.

December is filled with all types of indulgent festivities, making staying on track with healthy food habits especially difficult. But there are ways to enjoy all the flavors of the seasons, while not falling completely off track or emotionally depriving yourself from all your favorite holiday goodies.

We asked our chief medical officer, Dr. Glenn Pomerantz, how we can stay on track while allowing a little room for indulgence. He shared his tips for not overdoing it during the holidays, so you can still balance healthy options with the sweet and savory holiday treats that truly bring you joy.

Using Dr. Pomerantz’s tips, follow these five simple tips to stay on track while keeping your holidays merry and bright.

1. Fill your plate using thoughtful intention

When it comes to meal time, Dr. Pomerantz says to remember the healthy plate rule.  Mentally mark your plate in half. Fill that half with fruits and vegetables. On the other half of the plate, half it again, so 25 percent of your plate has a protein and 25 percent has a carbohydrate, like bread or potatoes.

“You don’t have to be perfect at every meal, but this is a good rule of thumb to follow,” Dr. Pomerantz says.

 

2. Wait before scooping up seconds

You may have heard the rules about eating slowly and taking sips of water between bites. The same holds true when it comes to filling up on seconds.

A good practice, according to Dr. Pomerantz, is to “wait some period of time, maybe even five to ten minutes, before reaching for a second helping. This will allow your stomach to indicated if you’re truly still hungry or your food just hadn’t settle enough to let you know you are full.”

 

3. Emotional satisfaction matters, but don't overindulge

Eating always provides emotional satisfaction and that is perhaps even more true during the holidays. If you have a recipe for your grandma’s best sugar cookies, you don’t have to skip out entirely just to be healthier. Instead, make the process enjoyable instead of overindulgent. Focus on the recipe and making them the way you remember them in the past. Then decide how many you want to “taste test.”

“The key is to be satisfied emotionally with your choices and the amount,” says Dr. Pomerantz.

In other words, long-term emotional satisfaction may not occur if you have a dozen cookies in one sitting.

4. Cold weather isn't an excuse, find a place for a brisk walk

While you shouldn’t take long walks outside when the temperatures are dangerously low, there will hopefully be plenty of mild weather days that will allow a nice outdoor walk. And if the weather doesn’t play nice, there are plenty of indoor options in many areas. Keep those as a backup.

“Brisk walking is extremely beneficial and underrated as a form of exercise,” Dr. Pomerantz says. “Aim to walk five days a week for 30 minutes.”

5. Don't cheat yourself, enjoy occasional treats

They are called treats for a reason. Save the unhealthy foods for a “once in a while” reward. Cheating yourself won’t do you any good. In fact, you may find yourself overindulging in a craving if you’re too strict. The key is not about being perfect. It’s about being better.

“Do not deprive your yourself completely of an unhealthy food you really enjoy,” Dr. Pomerantz says. “Instead, try and decrease the amount and frequency at first. Make a treat a treat.” Take time to truly enjoy one special treat at a time – focusing on the taste, smell, texture and memories that draw you to that treat during the holiday season.

Happy Holidays

With these doctor’s tips in mind, we hope you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season, while enjoying just the right amount of sweet and savory— your health will thank you!

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