The holiday season is often met with mixed emotions. It is both a time to reflect on the year past, and a time to prepare for the one ahead. In addition to the usual increase in socializing and shopping, there is also a seemingly never-ending supply of holiday foods. The typical American reportedly gains upwards of 6-10 pounds over the holiday season, but there are simple measures you can take to minimize weight gain, stay healthy, and keep chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease under control. Enjoy both the holiday season and good health with some of these tips:
* Preplanning. This is important to help you meet the food and health challenges of the holidays, and to stay in control and not feel tempted all the time. What you do now affects your ability to fully enjoy the season. Everything from cleaning your house to getting your annual flu vaccine can help ensure that you stay healthy during the upcoming weeks.
* Holiday meals. Start planning your holiday meals early, and see what can be prepared ahead (and what can be frozen to use afterwards). This will help cut down your “time in the kitchen,” where temptation is greater. For some great, DASH-friendly recipes, check out our MinuteClinic’s #FoodieFriday recipes each week: http://bit.ly/1RTxxVv.
* Shopping. Write out grocery lists before shopping, so you are not tempted by in store food displays. Have a good supply of fresh fruits and vegetables within easy reach - and holiday treats out of reach - to ensure a healthy choice is easy to get when hunger hits.
* Healthy time savers. Many people prefer to shop locally and avoid the long lines at larger grocery stores. CVS, for example, offers holiday shopping, from foods to gifts and much more. They also offer onsite flu vaccines and more at their MinuteClinics, http://bit.ly/1wkh3fW Getting a flu shot is especially important for people with diabetes, since they are at high risk for complications from the flu. MinuteClinics, at many CVS locations, also offer important services for people with diabetes including Diabetes Monitoring: http://bit.ly/1fPfpPK and Diabetes Screenings: http://bit.ly/1So8Kh9.
* Portion control. Measure and portion out serving sizes whenever possible. Read labels and calculate the total calories/daily intake. Then balance the calories with exercise or physical activity for multiple benefits. If you weren’t successful in overcoming holiday temptations, MinuteClinic may also be able to help: They recently introduced a new Weight Loss Program. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1vu2SGH
* Stay active. Daily activity (walking, jogging, a gym workout, even skipping rope) will improve your glucose levels as well as your stress levels. Don’t let outdoor winter weather impact your activity. There are plenty of indoor activities (housecleaning, yoga, exercise tapes or DVDs) that are equally effective.
* Keep in control: For people with diabetes and/or heart disease, it’s important to stay in their target range for blood glucose and blood pressure over the holidays. This can be difficult, since many foods have hidden sugars and salt, so:
-Try to prepare your own food dishes when possible. This will help you know exactly what, and how much, you’re eating.
- Measure out food and drinks so you have better control of your calories and carbs.
- Keep track of your blood glucose levels regularly.
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and with a little additional effort on your part, you can have a healthy and happy holiday season.
Finally, and most importantly, remember the real “meaning of the season.” It is time to focus on family, friends and the year gone by. The holiday meal is simply a meal, not a week-long celebration. Stay active, and welcome 2016 with open arms. Happy Holidays!