Nutrition & Fitness
Tips for the Holiday Season
Arm Yourself With Smarter Snacks
Nutritionists agree that one of the best ways to maintain your weight is by eating small meals throughout the day, with healthy snacks in between. This helps keep your metabolism up and running, and lowers your risk of overeating at mealtime.
Try these easy tips to help you stay on track.
Visit your supermarket. There are plenty of healthy snack options at your neighborhood grocery store – just look around. Try edamame (soy beans) or air-popped popcorn. Cut, raw vegetables are always a great, low-calorie snack!
Stock up on fruits. Fresh, seasonal picks are solid snack choices. Canned or frozen fruits are healthy as long as they don't contain added sweetener (avoid fruit canned in "syrup").
Tune in to your hunger. Snack when you're genuinely hungry, and not because you're stressed or bored (go for a quick walk instead). Also, try not to snack when you're watching TV. It's too easy to lose track of how much you're eating.
Whatever your snack choice, never eat right out of the package – it is too easy to eat more than you intended. Instead, serve yourself one portion and put the package away.
Celebrate the Season With Ease
You may enjoy hosting holiday gatherings or entertaining out-of-town guests. But sometimes, stress can crash your party and ruin your weight management plan. Here are some simple ways to help you get back your balance – and handle whatever the holidays throw at you.
Unplug. Take a break from checking your phone and email. Instead, enjoy a long bath, go for a nature walk (exercise is a great stress reliever!), or play a board game with your friends or family. Just be present and happy in the moment.
Bust a move. Turn on your favorite jams and show off your best moves! Music has been shown to lower mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and even pain. Dancing releases endorphins (happy hormones) into your body.
Laugh it off. Laughing relaxes your body and clears your mind. Feeling anxious? Watch a comedy or spend time with a funny friend. A good belly laugh will wash your tension away.
Stay on Track – Wherever Your Travels Take You
Travel can trip you up if you are watching your weight. But there are always ways to stay healthy and motivated – even when you are surrounded by tempting, high-fat foods.
Here are some tips to help you stick with a healthy food and fitness plan during your holiday travel.
Snack smart. If you are driving to your destination, be sure to pack healthy snacks to take with you. Raw vegetables like carrots, celery, or cauliflower, hard-boiled eggs, cheese and whole-grain crackers, apples or nuts are all portable, healthy snacks. Don't forget to pack some water too.
Put healthy in the mix. If you're helping out with a big family dinner, bring a vegetable side dish or salad. Try to make half your plate vegetables.
Know when to stop. Still hungry? Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you're full. So if you think you want second helpings, take a break for 20 minutes, then ask yourself if you really want more.
How to Handle Holiday Stress
By Ann Griepp, M.D., Excellus Medical Director, Behavioral Health
In my mind:
- The snow falls and I start to build the list of what I want the holidays to be:
- Happy holiday gatherings with friends and family.
- Christmas cards with pictures and long, individualized letters.
- My packages wrapped, mailed and arriving before Christmas.
- No weight gain. I'll sleep well, keep exercising and volunteer.
- At the office, I'll meet deadlines with a smile. I'll decorate my cube and bring in treats.
The reality (Dec. 20):
Work is out of control. I have too much to finish. I can't clean off my desk or put down the treats. My kids arrive home from college with all their debris – my house is a disaster area.
The cookie exchange is today...I forgot. I didn't bake a thing.
Christmas cards...what cards? Can I just post a Facebook message saying, "Merry Christmas?" I can't zip my jeans. I can't fall asleep.
Stop! Breathe! The holidays will not make a bereaved person forget their loss, a lonely person feel connected, the poor have all they need, or make up for neglecting our health or our relationships all year long.
One way to handle the stress is to wake up 10 minutes earlier. You can light a candle, drink coffee and reflect on the day and count your blessings.
Decide What Can Go. Every year after the holidays, my family and I talk about what worked or didn't work. As a result, we dropped Christmas cards, stopped decorating so much, and saved time by giving money instead of individual gifts.
Keep the activities you love. If making Grandma's peanut brittle is a must, then by all means do it!
Eat, Exercise, Sleep. And don't forget the PETS. Pets can feel the tension, good smells and excitement. Going for a long walk with your pet will do a lot of good for yourself and your companion.
Change the Formula. Many of the winter holidays — Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa — have multiple days of celebration. So spread it out. My parents used to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by planning simple gatherings with friends and family. We'd skate or go sledding. We'd play cards, eat, and exchange small gifts.
I've always wondered why we've moved away from these simpler times. Now we hurry and squeeze all the preparations in to be ready by Dec. 24, while continuing our normal work schedule.
Then on Dec. 26, the tree is in the garbage, the holiday is over and our kids are driving us nuts because they're home from school. I treasure those memories of the 12 simpler days of Christmas.
Simple Ways to Sneak in Fitness
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. Between parties, traveling, baking, and shopping, there's not much time for exercise. And this is the season when you need it the most. It can help you beat stress, boost energy, and burn off all those homemade cookies.
Here are some smart ways to fit in fitness. Every step counts on your mission to manage your weight!
Move more. Use the stairs. Take a walk at lunch. When you run errands, park farther away so you can walk as much as you can. Basically, anytime there's a chance to move, do it.
Make it social. Start a walking group at work. Keep your dog happy with a quick run. Catch up with an old friend or family member for a walk while you boost the health of your heart.
Break it up. If you don't have time to exercise for 30 minutes, split it up into a couple of 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute walks. You will get the same health benefits.
One way to make sure you are getting the exercise you need is to track it. You can use the American Heart Association's Activity Tracker to track your activity, or, if you want to track both what you are eating and how much exercise you are getting, use My Fitness Pal. Both are free.
Add "Healthy" to Every Holiday Helping
It's that time of year when you and your family are inspired to cook your favorite comfort foods or sweet treats. But these high-calorie dishes can add up to holiday love handles. Thankfully, there are few simple tricks to turn any traditional recipe into a lower-calorie health food that's still delicious.
Here are some easy ways to give your homemade dishes a healthy makeover. Try these out to help you manage your weight – all season long.
- Go low. Swap low- or nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream in dips, appetizers, and casseroles. Instead of full-fat cheese, choose low-fat cheese. For dishes that call for lots of butter, like stuffing or sweet potatoes, use half or two-thirds the butter called for – you will cut a lot of calories without affecting the taste.
- Bring a backup. Be sure to bring your favorite healthy dish to the party. That way, if you don't see anything healthy to eat, you have your dish to help you stay on track.
- Brighten up. Replace one heavy starch dish with a fresh fruit or a bright vegetable dish – such as mixed greens or roasted asparagus. Fill up on the veggies first – make sure half your plate is veggies and fruit.
Take Charge of Your Weight This Holiday Season!
Did you know that the average American gains 1-2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's? While this may not sound like a lot, most people never lose it, so that weight accumulates over the years. People who are already overweight or obese tend to gain an average of 5 pounds during the holiday season. This holiday season, make a pledge to Maintain, Don't Gain!
Use these tips to avoid those extra holiday pounds:
- Keep moving! Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of exercise. If you currently aren't active, start with 5-10 minutes and build up to 30 - any exercise is better than none. Make a plan and stick to it.
- Add lots of color! Eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables have proven to help with weight management. They are low in calories and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which helps you feel full. Try to make half of each meal vegetables and fruits.
- Set a goal and celebrate your successes! Making exercise and healthy eating a regular habit takes commitment and planning. Set an achievable goal and then celebrate your success. Then set a new goal, and soon you will have lots of new healthy habits!
Cooking with Joel!
Enjoy Chef Joel's healthy back-to-school recipes!
- Cabbage and Carrot Salad
- Fall Vegetable Quinoa Soup
- Quinoa and Shrimp Grits
- Coconut Curry Shrimp & Green Beans
- Brie, Apple, and Arugula Quesadillas
- Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe
Please submit recipes to our suggestion box, we will be featuring an employee "recipe of the month."
Here are some helpful resources for the entire campus community to use, long after the Eat Well, Live Well challenge is over. We hope these guides will help you continue to eat well and live better!
Nutrition and Fitness
- What Counts as a Cup? [pdf]
- Eat a Rainbow Every Day [pdf]
- Build a Better Salad [pdf]
- Daily Meal Template [pdf]
- Step Conversion Chart [pdf]
- 100 Ways to Add 2000 Steps [pdf]
- 100 Ways to Eat Healthier [pdf]
- Portion Control Wallet Guide
- Healthy Eating Plate [pdf]
- Just Enough for You - About Food Portions [pdf]
- CDC's Healthy Weight
- Dear (Food) Diary - article by Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Apps for Losing Weight and Counting Calories
Lose It! • Calorie Tracker • Health Cubby • Myfitnesspal • Daily Burners • Smoothie Selector • Food Planner Lite • VeganXpress • Slim Down Shopping List • The Carrot