The following originally ran in November 2012. We rerun it today, with some tweaks, because its message is timeless come November. Here’s why.
Come November, we’re usually in fighting’ shape. A lot of folks start hiking again, in earnest, come September; by early November we’re hiking farther, we’re spending more time on the trail. Then come the holidays.
Yes, there’s a lot going on. Year-end deadlines, the return (to some degree) of holiday parties, the return (to a greater degree) of family gatherings. Shopping. But all that — especially the latter two — are all the more reason you need to keep active, keep hiking, and pay attention to your health. That said, on to our pre-holiday discussion from 2017 with Shelly Wegman, a registered dietician with Rex Nutrition Center, and Robert Brener,, longtime chef and associate professor in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte campus.
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Now isn’t the time that our thoughts turn toward living healthier. That won’t happen for — when’s New Year’s Day? — another couple of months?
We’re here today to suggest, on the cusp of the eating season, that now’s exactly the time to start living healthier. And that typically means two things:
- Moving more
- Eating better
We’re about to introduce a program for moving more through the holidays. We’re still working out the details, but should be ready to share details next week. Keep an eye out.
Meanwhile, we came across the following blog from five years ago about not letting the holiday feeding season get the best of you. Six simple, easy-to-follow suggestions Wegman. You can still enjoy the holidays — and you won’t wake up January 1 with a 10-pound holiday hangover.
Toward that end, Wegman suggests:
Keep a food journal. “Writing it down makes you aware of what you are eating,” Wegman says. If you religiously document your intake, it will help you realize not only how much your are eating but you’ll also be better able to make the connection, say, between all the sugary, fatty stuff you ate and why, a little while later, you felt so sluggish and sleepy.
Think seasonal, think fresh. You don’t have to sacrifice your taste buds to survive the holidays, saysBrener. “Healthier options are readily available for the holidays,” he says. “I suggest trying to remain seasonal in your vegetable choices. Winter greens are plentiful this time of year: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, turnip, mustard, collard and carrot greens are all packed with nutrients and can be flavored with onion, garlic or even smoked lean meats like chicken or turkey.”
Watch what you drink. “Sugary beverages are where a lot of people get into trouble,” Wegman says. Be especially vigilant when it comes to holiday punches, often saturated with sugars, sodas and juices, and alcohol. “Watch for anything with an umbrella in it,” she cautions, and keep an eye on serving size. “The typical portion size of a glass of wine is five or six ounces; it can be twice that over the holidays.” Want a good holiday drink that makes you appear festive yet keeps you light on your feet? Try soda water with lime.
Use healthy substitutes. Do those lemon bars you’re baking for the office party really need a cup of butter? Probably not, Brener says. “Excellent substitutions for butter and oil include sour cream, apple sauce and fat-free buttermilk. Often these items are used because they provide the moisture, enrichment, binding and texture that fats provide.”
Eat visually First, when you’re at a holiday party, use the smallest plate you can find – our tendency is to fill it to capacity, Wegman notes. Next, she adds, fill that small plate this way: half with veggies (easy on the dips), a quarter with lean protein (salmon, tofu, chicken breast), a quarter with a whole grain starch (whole grain crackers) and fruit. And don’t be afraid to top off with a (that’s one) holiday treat. “Good nutrition is about moderation. You can enjoy all foods, just do it in the right portions.”
Remember breakfast. Especially during the holidays, it’s the most important meal of the day. If you start the morning with a couple of doughnuts or a big bagel, you’ll have trouble recovering for the rest of the day. Get a good balance of protein and carbohydrates, advises Wegman. High on her breakfast list: Greek-style yogurt, spinach and veggie omelet, cottage cheese and fruit, cheese toast.
And finally — keep hiking!