Q: How can I enjoy the holidays but still eat right?

by: Lisa Conway

‘Tis the season for family, fun and food, food, FOOD! Let’s face it: The holidays are filled with parties and events that are hard to turn down. But participating in everything can be exhausting and lead to over-eating (and not the healthy stuff). Over the years, I’ve tried to remember these tips for maintaining balance at the holidays.

Routine and consistency:

Maintaining consistency in my routine and diet during the holidays is crucial. Most of us eat meals about the same time each day. If a party is held later than I usually eat, I grab a healthy(ish) snack before going. This keeps me from overindulging and eating every delicious thing in sight.

Buffets and balance:

Navigating the holiday buffet line is an exercise in temptation. The spread of food makes it hard not to dive right in! Here’s my strategy: I start by grabbing one of the smaller plates, choosing fruits and veggies for round one. Then I step away from the buffet line and do some mingling, to let some time elapse before I consider going back for more. Why? It takes 20-30 minutes for the brain to send signals of fullness.

Keep moving:

Sometimes the fabulous food and occasional spirits leave me feeling lethargic and bloated. Sound familiar? When possible, I like to walk around the block after eating. Other ways to increase physical activity at the holidays (or anytime) include taking the stairs instead of an elevator, choosing a distant parking spot over a close one, or leaving the car keys at home in favor of foot power. The benefits are cumulative — and every little bit helps combat holiday calories.

Get your ZZZ’s:

Late nights and changing schedules can take their toll. Lack of sleep can affect our bodies in many ways, including slowing our metabolism and causing blood sugar levels to drop. This often leads to less healthy food choices, giving in to cravings for sugar and fat. Get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep; try to go to sleep around the same time each night and wake up around the same time each morning.

You don’t have to be a Scrooge when it comes to having holiday fun! Just don’t forget about self-care. In that spirit, join me on December 8 at One Senior Place in Viera for a lesson on holiday cookie decorating from a professional chef. Call 321-751-6771 to RSVP.  

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse, Certified Dementia Practitioner and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera. Ms. Conway hosts a monthly seminar, ‘Senior Health Friday with Nurse Lisa.’