On Your Health

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry...In Moderation

By Dr. Melanie Marshall, family medicine doctor at INTEGRIS Family Care Northwest

Eat, drink and be merry this holiday season, but do so in moderation. It is possible to survive the holiday season without increased pounds or increased stress.

Why do we so often associate the holidays with weight gain? For one, unhealthy yet tasty food is more available during the holidays. The average American consumes 3,500 calories at Thanksgiving dinner alone. The more parties and gatherings we attend, the more food and alcohol we are likely to consume.

But there's more to blame than just the presence of food. The increased stress and emotions of the holidays can also lead to weight gain. Americans experience more daily stress than any other country.

Adding holiday obligations, expectations to create the perfect holiday environment, purchase the right gift, along with the ever-growing expense of the holidays can increase stress to an all-time high. This can increase hunger, delay fullness and create the need for a pleasurable escape through food and drink.

With the right planning, we can not only survive the holidays, we can do so with limited weight gain and limited stress.

  • Start with decreased availability of those yummy treats. Don't keep them at home or at your desk, but don't deprive yourself. If someone offers, allow one small serving of candy or cookies each day during the holidays.
  • Exercise. Set up a workout plan before the holidays that is achievable. Then you can enjoy those holiday treats with less guilt and less weight gain.
  • Have a healthy snack before showing up to that holiday party, then grab a small portion of each of those delicious goodies and place yourself far away from that food table to avoid unconscious snacking.
  • Set expectations for gift giving and holiday plans early, and stick with the budget and plan you create.

Holidays are a time for reflection and enjoying family and friends. Making these a priority will help cut down on your holiday stress.

Have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry ... In Moderation

During the holidays, we can be tempted by the abundance of snacks and treats available this time of year.