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Healthy Weight Management Tips For The Holidays

Dr. Donnica's Top Ten Tips for Healthful Holiday Weight Management:

  1. Rome wasn't built in a day; neither were your thighs.† Don't blame a long-term problem on a one-day Thanksgiving binge; don't expect to correct previous problems in a day (or a week, or even a month) either.† Don't start a five week "I've got to fit into that outfit by New Year's Eve" crash diet the day after Thanksgiving either; it won't suit you for the long term and may serve to make this millennial holiday season unduly stressful.† In addition, "crash diet" approaches (such as skipping breakfast or fasting for a day before the feast) generally backfire, causing you to defeat your purpose entirely.
  2. Turkey is actually quite lean and healthy (especially the white meat): it is the skin and the trimming that will get you.† Send the gravy boat sailing elsewhere and pass on the butter.† Make simple and relatively easy choices with big pay-offs.† Load up on other healthy and relatively low fat side dishes: the salads, corn-on-the-cob, squash family, and mashed potatoes (made with skim milk and butter-substitutes).† Consider low-fat ingredients to benefit everyone if you are preparing the holiday fare; also consider healthful food substitutes for traditional ingredients.† You don't have to go as far as buying a prepared tofu-made look-alike turkey (although this may be a fun option for vegetarians), but you may want to consider a soy-based eggnog recipe, for example.
  3. There's no reason that you have to skip dessert; you just don't have to eat full-servings of each choice.† Similarly, just because your friends or loved ones gave you a beautiful box of Godiva chocolates doesn't mean you have to eat them all at once- or eat them at all, for that matter.† I recommend asking yourself if you really want these food-related gifts before you open them.† While they're generally not returnable, they are recyclable: these make great gifts for local charitable gift drives.† If you generally give these sorts of gifts, consider fruit baskets instead.
  4. Moms- just as there is no rule that says that kids have to clean their plates, there is no rule that you have to eat whatever they've left over.† Start good eating habits in your children early.† As with every other behavior we want them to use, modeling the correct behavior is the best way to teach.† Our kids can also be great motivators for us- when examining your own holiday eating patterns, ask yourself "Would I allow my child to eat this way?"
  5. Post Thanksgiving shopping has become nearly as much a part of our holiday tradition as the turkey itself.† While mall walking is generally great exercise-especially when carrying lots of packages (or a small child)-the healthiest walk you take may be the one that bypasses the food court.† Generally, you're much better off going home to eat Thanksgiving leftovers.† If you do stop for fast food at the mall, try to skip the greasy burgers and fries or high fat smoothies in favor of one of the more healthful, low-fat alternatives.† And if you're really stopping just to rest your feet, don't feel obligated to eat.† A bottle of water will go a long way towards refreshing you.
  6. Our bigger problem with health and the holidays is falling out of our exercise routines- or dropping them altogether.† When the hustle and bustle of the holiday season invades our already over scheduled days, exercise is often the first thing to be sacrificed (after sleep!).† If going to the gym really becomes inconvenient, try other holiday related activities.† There are many alternatives, such as mall walking clubs, which suit holiday agendas along with the need in most parts of the country for weather-adjusted exercise at this time of year.† Another suggestion is to pass the football instead of the remote control.† A holiday tradition in our family is not just to watch football, but to play it as well- we have our own annual Turkey Bowl.† With many families, however, it's the men who play while the women cook or clean.† This is passe. In our family everyone plays and the losing team cleans.† This makes for a very high stakes game!
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 Eating a huge Thanksgiving Feast is as American as apple pie. Itís also the unofficial beginning of a 5-week holiday season whose hallmark is merry-making, usually involving large quantities of food and drink. The end of the season, however, often culminates in regret and recriminations for having eaten all that we did-and putting on often unhealthy and unwanted pounds. 

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