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How to avoid overindulging this holiday season

Halloween is just around the corner and marks the start of the busy holiday season. While this is a great time of year to gather with friends and family to celebrate, it is also filled with tempting treats, chock-full of sugar and high in calories and fat. But, take heart. Armed with some advice from our Women’s Heart Secrets Program clinical dietitian Jennifer Molt, RD, and a little will power, you can successfully navigate holiday goodies and avoid overindulging.
Halloween: Monitor your sugar intake 
Any dentist will tell you sugar is bad for your teeth, but it’s also loaded with calories, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain.  Because excess weight gain is linked with diabetes, heart disease and other serious health conditions, cutting back on sugar is a smart idea for many people. But, limiting your sugar intake can be particularly challenging, especially as Halloween approaches.

Try these tips to reduce sweets:

  • Give trick-or-treaters non-food items like glitter stickers, temporary tattoos, rubber worms or colored pencils. By keeping candy out of your house altogether, you’ll avoid the leftovers that can linger for weeks.
  • Train your tongue. Start teaching your taste buds to favor food that’s less sweet by incorporating fruit, which is naturally sweet, into your diet. It’s also full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber.
  • If you’re craving something sweet, opt for dark chocolate. This treat, when eaten in moderation, can help prevent heart disease. Read more about dark chocolate’s benefits.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s: Avoid items high in fat and calories
Indulging at holiday parties can do more than stretch your waistline: the risk of having a heart attack may be increased after eating a large meal high in fat and calories.  With a little forethought, it is possible to enjoy the season’s many holiday gatherings and maintain your current weight.
Follow this advice to steer clear of excess fat and calories: 

    Eat before you go. To avoid arriving hungry and then indulging in unhealthy foods at holiday parties and dinners, eat a healthy, light snack that has some protein before you go.
  • Watch what you drink. Start with sparkling water and be sure to skip the eggnog and mixed drinks altogether.  Instead, sip white wine or cider, which are lower in calories. 
  • Maintain some control. Bring a dish to share so you are guaranteed at least one healthy option.  Experiment with traditional recipes in advance to create healthier versions of your favorite holiday dishes.
  • Be active and relax. Start a new tradition and go for a walk with your family after a big holiday meal. Be sure to give yourself some downtime, too. Stress and a hectic schedule can easily lead to overeating. 

The bottom line on your waistline over the holidays is that with a little planning and resolve, you can enjoy the season’s treats without going cold turkey and depriving yourself of the goodies that make the season special.


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