How do I balance healthy eating during the holidays with the parties and get togethers with family?

The holidays can be a wonderful time for family and friends to unite and share laughter and good food. Unfortunately, sometimes “family” and “holiday” time can cause you to feel “unbalanced”. You may find yourself eating more than normal and your exercise routine may take a backseat for the season. Also, your stress level may rise and lead to overeating when family members (who don’t normally see each other much) get together for the holiday. A heated discussion over politics at dinner may cause you to clean your plate without really tasting the food. A house full of active and vocal children may result in an intense need for a chocolate fix. An aunt (that may mean well) inquiring as to why you are not yet married may lead to a few cocktails too many. If you are not exercising or taking some “you” time, all of these things can cause you to feel unbalanced this holiday season.

There are several ways to reduce stress and prevent unwanted weight gain during Christmas time. If you are traveling over the holidays, pack healthy snacks with you, like fresh fruit and yogurt, to have when you are in need for something sweet. At dinner, do your best to focus on the flavors of the food on your plate. Try setting your fork down between bites and if you find your stress level rising over dinner conversation, practice deep breathing and if needed, remove yourself from the table. It’s a good idea to alternate a cocktail with flavored seltzer water for a calorie savings (and let your aunt know that she will be the first to know when you decide to get married). Exercise plays an important role in bringing balance back into your life. Take those energetic kids outside to play…and play with them! Wrestling around in the snow and sledding can really help tire them out and help you burn some calories. If you are traveling over the holidays, be sure to pack your tennis shoes and put them to use. Depending on the weather, try to get outside to walk or run as much as possible. The fresh air will do you good and it will be therapeutic to get your muscles moving. Speaking of therapeutic, make sure you take time off to be by yourself during the holidays. You could go and see a movie by yourself or at least take a nice bath/settle in with a good book. These activities will help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated this holiday season.

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