Mountain Family Health column: Healthy eating over the holidays and into the new year
Mountain Family Health
The winter holidays are a challenging time if you’re trying to improve eating habits, or planning to continue eating healthy. Adding New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or make up for holiday overeating can add more stress, creating a vicious cycle. Mountain Family Health Centers primary care physician Dr. Maria Chansky has the following recommendations for patients during the holiday season and heading into the New Year:
1. Be mindful of portion sizes, as everyone tends to overachieve over the holidays. It is important for patients to choose healthy portions as well as healthy foods.
2. There are huge numbers of empty calories in alcohol. Make healthy choices about quantity with regard to beverages as well as food.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional tips on how to keep healthy eating habits during the holiday season and in 2019 (https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesmanagement/index.html):
3. At a buffet? Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table.
4. Eat slowly, it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full.
5. Break physical activity up into smaller chunks so it fits into your schedule, like walking 10 minutes several times a day.
6. If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbs (like potatoes and bread) during the meal.
7. If you slip up, get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.
8. If you’re managing prediabetes or diabetes, avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interact with diabetes medicines.
9. Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtime and eat a little less when dinner is served.
10. Don’t skip meals to save up for a feast. It will be harder to keep your blood sugar in control, and you’ll be really hungry and more likely to overeat.
11. Get Your Zzz’s: going out more and staying out later often means cutting back on sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar, and when you’re sleep deprived you’ll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for seven to eight hours per night to guard against mindless eating.
Getting Ready for 2019
When it comes to healthy eating in the New Year, it’s easy to feel ambitious. Here are some resolutions to stack the odds in favor of maintaining or improving your health:
• Eat more protein to help curb sugar cravings
• Eat more fruits and vegetables; at least five servings a day
• Eat more often, with smaller portions
• Drink alcohol less often, or in smaller quantities. As Health.com explains, “drinking alcohol in excess affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and can increase the risk of depression, memory loss, or even seizures… Chronic heavy drinking boosts your risk of liver and heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and mental deterioration, and even cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, and breast.”
• Learn a new healthy recipe each month, so your list of preferred meals continues to grow.
Mountain Family Health Centers wishes you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season and a Happy New Year.
Maria Y. Chansky, MD, is a physician with Mountain Family Health Centers.
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