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Wishing You Happy (and Healthy!) Holidays

Holiday plate diagram

Wishing You Happy (and Healthy!) Holidays

November 14, 2018 | HOLIDAYS

Contributions from:
Ali Coster, Dietetic Intern
Laura Andromalos, Dietitian and Diabetes Educator
Amanda Davis, Exercise Physiologist
Lance Briggs, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

During this holiday season, make a promise to put yourself at the top of your list. You’ve worked hard to stay on course with managing your weight and health throughout the year. Don’t let the holiday season throw you off! Parties, big meals, treats at the office and alcohol all create a challenging environment for healthy eating. Days of travel and holiday events limit time for exercise. And we won’t even start counting the number of possible stressors that come with the holiday season.

Your NWWC care team wants to support you! With nutrition, fitness, and behavioral health experts, we can help you make a plan to stay on track throughout the holidays. Be proactive! Schedule an appointment to see us before the holiday season wreaks havoc on your health goals.

Nutrition Tips:

  • Want to make sure you can still enjoy holiday favorites? Use the plate method for a balanced and portion-controlled meal.
    • Fill a quarter of your plate with protein foods and eat those first.
    • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and eat those next. Think green beans, mushrooms, carrots, spinach, Brussels sprouts, etc.
    • Finally, a quarter of your plate is for the starch-based foods such as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, or corn. If you are listening to your stomach, you might not have much space left for the foods in this part of your plate. Savor the flavors of each bite.
    • Treat fats, such as gravy, butter, or oil, as condiments. A little bit can go a long way.
    • If you choose to have dessert, have a small portion, enjoy every bite, and move on. Don’t let it turn into an everyday indulgence during the holiday season.

Fitness Tips:

  • Start your day with a Turkey Trot or a Jingle Bell Jog. If you can’t make it to an official one, do your own with family and friends.
  • A 30-minute casual walk after a meal can significantly decrease your blood sugar level whether or not you have diabetes. Get some steps in after you eat.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to be time-consuming and anything is better than nothing. A 5- or 10-minute walk is always better than 0 minutes of movement.

Behavioral Health Tips:

  • Practice good sleep hygiene: Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep will greatly increase your risk of developing depression or anxiety
    • Set a schedule – Start settling into bed at least 30 min before the planned sleep time. Set an alarm and have a morning routine.
    • Turn off electronics – Lights from the phone or TV trick your brain to reduce its production of melatonin, the sleep time hormone.
      • Pro tip: If you are having trouble with this one, switch to radio / podcasts, and then transition to a white noise device (e.g. fan).
    • Cut out evening / nighttime caffeine – Caffeine’s half-life is about 6 hours, but the amounts in most caffeinated drinks can take up to 12 hours to be fully eliminated.
  • Practice mindfulness: We’ve programmed our minds to plan for the future, and analyze the past, but it’s difficult to focus on the present. Mindfulness, or present centered thinking, can help reduce anxiety about the future and guilt from past situations.
    • Pay attention to physical sensations, sounds, smells, or tastes helps you focus. Start with routine activities, such as a shower. Focus on the feeling of the water drops flowing downward. When your mind wanders off into the future, bring it back with focusing on a sensation.
      • Pro tip: Mindfulness may seem silly at first, and not as important as other things to focus on, but the emotional and psychological benefits with this practice are profound.
  • Practice gratitude through journaling: Research clearly shows a link between improved mental health and gratitude. It is often easier to identify the wrongs in our life and neglect the right things.
    • Set a daily time, perhaps in your evening routine, to sit down and write of list of things you are grateful for that day.

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