Enjoy the holidays but don’t overindulge

Well, it is that time of year again. Too much to eat, too much to drink and too much stress, even though some of it is good stress.

It is great to see the family and get cards and gifts from friends but sometimes it all leads to just too much of a good thing. We love the holiday celebrations but when they start in late November with Thanksgiving and don’t let up until January, we are faced with too many calories, too few workouts and not enough real relaxation.

Most people admit that at this time of year they tend to put on the pounds and then fight to get them back off for the rest of the year. Now, of course, I’m not saying don’t enjoy the holidays, but have a plan so that you don’t gain a lot of weight and feel unhealthy. When you have multiple parties to attend, you need to take it easy and place yourself away from the food so that you really think about the food that is going into your mouth rather than just mindlessly eating.

Same with the bar. Don’t stand or sit close to the bar, it makes it too easy to refill that glass. Go to the far end of the room. Of course some hosts bring the food around, so take one bit but pass on the next round. You can tell them the food is excellent but that you had dinner before you came or that you are really trying to watch your weight. Nobody can force feed you unless you are in captivity.

Also, it’s important to fill up on the lower calorie foods rather than digging into the rich, fatty and sugary foods. On our island most times people bring food to get-togethers at people’s houses, so you can bring some good, low-calorie and more healthy choices in order that you will have something to munch on that won’t make you fat.

The calories in alcoholic drinks can really add up, too. Many experts on social drinking recommend that you have one drink and then have a glass of water, alternating all night long so that you don’t get dehydrated, as well as drunk and hungover. The other way is to nurse your drink over a long time and eat fibrous foods like veggies so that you fill up and slow down the effects of the alcohol.

Don’t forget about those workouts, either, during the holiday season. It is easy to let the days go by without a workout when there is so much holiday activity with visiting, shopping, cleaning, cooking and decorating the house. Lots to do, but none of it really enhances your health the way a good workout does. Stress reduction is an important benefit of working out and, of course, as you are apt to be eating more fattening foods, it is imperative that you try to work out as much as possible to offset the increased calories.

Getting together with friends and family should be fun and stress reducing, but doesn’t it always seems that somehow, someone always gets their knickers in a knot about something that is really unimportant? Try not to be that person and when someone else gets upset, try to be the calming force. Really, this time of year is for celebrating, not for bickering. It doesn’t do your health any good to be upset. I always ask myself what difference will this make five days from now? Five months from now? Five years from now? If I can’t really see that the situation will make any significant difference to my life, why get upset about it at all? Don’t worry, be happy as they say. Stress kills.

I extend my every good wish to you for a wonderful, happy holiday season and hope that you and your family are healthy, happy and prosperous throughout the coming New Year! Aloha nui!

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Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., is a certified nutritional adviser.

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