Meigs Health Matters

By Wendy McGee - Contributing Columnist

During the busy holiday season, food is a key part of celebrations. It can be tough to eat healthy and find time for exercising, but it is possible to enjoy ourselves, eat healthier and sneak in physical activity.

It has been proven that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day people gain weight. What can be done to avoid this weight gain? During the holidays, the best idea is to adjust our mind-set. Do not try to lose weight, but maintain your weight. This can be accomplished by trying to exercise regularly and eating healthy foods.

Work to keep exercise on track. Exercising during the holidays can help you maintain your weight and relieve stress. Some simple physical activities such as walking or taking the stairs can be done even when traveling. For muscle strengthening, resistance bands travel well and can be attached to a chair or doorknob to use in toning legs and arms. Other ideas for increasing your activity are playing with kids, grandkids and pets; walking after dinner; and catching up on housework such as washing windows, vacuuming or sweeping.

Let yourself splurge on the foods that make your holiday meaningful while enjoying your favorite foods in smaller portions. What can you and your families do to prevent overeating? Eat small low calorie, high fiber meals and snacks such as WIC approved fruit and vegetables or WIC approved whole grains or whole grain crackers before the party. At the party, study the table and decide which choices give you the most pleasure and stick to choosing only those items. Also, eat your calories instead of drinking them by sticking to low or no calorie drinks and sipping on a large glass of water between every calorie containing drink. This will help with hydration and limit your beverage calories . Another tip is to try not to hang out close to food; instead find a comfortable spot across the room. Additionally, watch your portion sizes, and don’t completely cover your plate with food. Also, try to use smaller plates and make half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Another choice is to eat a plate of fruit and vegetables before eating entrees and desserts. In addition, avoid being in the “clean plate club.” It is OK to leave something on your plate. Allow your kids to say no to food instead of pressuring them to eat. Finally, take your time to relish every taste and pause for at least 10 minutes before getting seconds.

When preparing foods, you can make low calorie, low fat recipes or items with fruits, vegetables and lean meats. An example can be serving raw vegetables with a low or no fat yogurt or cottage cheese dip, fresh fruit or a whole grain pasta salad. Some additional tips for fixing foods with less fat and calories are to use two eggs whites in place of a whole egg; use low sodium, fat free chicken broth in mashed potatoes to reduce the butter or margarine; swap applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads; and substitute sliced almonds for a topping instead of French fried onion rings.

Most of all, enjoy your favorite holiday treats, but take small portions and eat it slowly to enjoy the taste and texture of the delicious foods. Contact me at the Meigs County Health Department WIC Office by calling 740-992-0392 for additional information.

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Meigs Health Matters

By Wendy McGee

Contributing Columnist

Wendy McGee, RD, LD, WIC Certifying Health Professional

Wendy McGee, RD, LD, WIC Certifying Health Professional