Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am

Your Health

Avoiding the annual pitfalls of holiday overindulgence


The season for gluttony has begun and, as your resident fitness experts, we want to encourage you to enjoy it.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the earth’s bounty and be grateful that we live in a world of plenty, not to feel guilty about eating a piece of pumpkin pie.

The good news: Amid the holiday hustle and bustle, people typically sit down to share meals, which benefits overall health and well-being.

The bad news: Routine is disrupted, daily life stress escalates, social engagements involving food and libations are popular and taking care of oneself is easily overlooked.

To simplify, and hopefully maximize, this festive time of year, following are tips and reminders that may come in handy.

• Get a good night’s sleep. Never underestimate the impact of good rest on mood and efficiency. Although 11 p.m. might seem like the only time you can prepare this or wrap that, a solid night’s sleep will afford you the stamina to continue the pace.

• Stay hydrated. Regular consumption of water is not only good for overall health, it also increases the sensation of fullness, making you less inclined to reach for goodies that might cross your path. Carry a water bottle with you when you are out and about.

• Enjoy the goodies. Rather than thinking, “I can’t have this” or “I shouldn’t have that,” go ahead and indulge – in moderation. Have a taste of tempting treats, but do so mindfully – savor them. Much like a new article of clothing or a gadget that you covet and look forward to owning, holiday treats should be special and not taken for granted.

• Look out for your own best interests. Keep quick, healthful snacks on hand. It’s virtually impossible to live through the holidays without feeling overwhelmed, so plan for it. Store a bag of nuts and some beef jerky in the car. Stock the house with fruits and veggies so that you can grab something on the fly. Package leftovers in individual containers so that one-pot meals are ready to go. When bringing a dish to a gathering, make something you’ll feel good about eating, as you can bet safely that others will bring sweets. If attending an open house or cocktail party, eat something nutritious before heading out.

• Remove the food – or remove yourself from it. The longer food is available, the more likely you are to eat it. Most people enjoy interacting around the table, but no one likes the discomfort that accompanies overeating. Clear the food off the table or move the gathering.

• Ensure that the good food is truly good. Seek out heritage, organic and/or sustainable turkey. Not only are these birds more flavorful, they are also better for you. Find a local supplier by visiting www.eatwellguide.org/search/advanced/. Locally, try Whole Foods Market. When possible, stick to local, seasonal produce. If you belong to a community-supported agriculture co-op, you can request extra items, but beware that even farmers may take time off for the holidays, so place your order early. The Mountain View and Palo Alto farmers’ markets run year-round – they get crowded the week of a holiday, so plan in advance.

• Lighten up. Instead of using low-calorie substitutes, try nutrient-dense alternatives. Rather than traditional mashed potatoes, make a cauliflower mash. Forgo the usual stuffing recipe for one made with vegetables, squash and/or beans. Serve crudités along with appetizers and fresh fruit along with dessert.

• Take time out. As easy as it is to get swept up in the excitement, the key to surviving the holidays with your sanity intact is to take a few moments to yourself every day to reflect and relax. Go for a walk, sit in a quiet room, take a few deep breaths.

Don’t let the holidays pass by in a flurry of events and activities. Enjoy your connections with others, savor the lights and the delights of the season and be grateful for the gifts in your life.

Tracey Downing is trainer and director at FIT, 600 Rancho Shopping Center, Los Altos. For more information, call 947-9831.

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