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Dietician’s Digest: Seven tips for health during the holiday season

Dietician’s Digest by Emily Schmidt

 

Seven quick tips from your local registered dietitian on maintaining or creating healthy habits during the winter holiday months:

1. Keep moving — yes, even during the winter months. Many people in the Midwest struggle with a decline in physical activity once winter rolls around. Come up with a backup plan if you normally get your exercise outdoors. If you’d prefer not to go to a gym, consider at-home workouts — walking around the house or up and down stairs, doing DVD or YouTube or other online workouts of your choice (even in-place walking, such as the fun guided walking workouts from Leslie Sansone), play with your kids or grandkids outside in the snow, or purchase exercise equipment for the home.

Emily Schmidt

2. Hydration is just as important during the holiday season as it is during the summertime. Make sure to get in at least 64 to 80 ounces of fluids daily, mostly from water. Yes, it counts if the water is flavored or sparkling (just check the nutrition facts label for zero grams sugar).

3. Keep plenty of easy-to-eat fruits and vegetables around. Ideally, plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables should make up nearly half of your food intake in a day. Since certain fresh produce isn’t as readily available or high quality during the winter months, vary your fruits and veggies — fresh, frozen or canned (ideally no sugar or salt added) are all acceptable.

4. Lean proteins and healthy fats help to balance out any sugary treats you may enjoy. Enjoy a cookie or a couple pieces of Christmas candy, but grab a small handful of almonds or a string cheese to help balance out the sugar. Drinking water also provides a great balance to sugary treats.

5. Keep a consistent eating pattern. Although the idea of skipping meals and snacks all day to “save room” for holiday meals or treats sounds good in theory, it may lead to overeating or bingeing later on. If you’re prone to eating in excess when you’re really, really hungry, this is probably not the best technique. Eat small amounts of high fiber, protein and healthy fat foods throughout the day to keep you satisfied.

6. Remain cautious with alcoholic beverages in both type and frequency. Some alcoholic drinks — especially those high in sugar, such as wine coolers, liqueurs, liquor mixed with regular soda or juice — add up quickly in calories and can contribute to weight gain. Additionally, excess alcohol is simply not great for our heart and other organs.

7. Enjoy laughter, joy and social connection — even if social distancing. This is an important aspect of health as well. Even if you’re not doing in-person celebrations this year or if they’re just not quite the same, try to connect however you can, whether it’s via technology or sending good old handwritten letters or cards.

 

Albert Lea resident Emily Schmidt is a registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. She enjoys writing, cooking and spending time with family.