It's that time of year again ... one after the other, the holidays will arrive! Along with them come the trays of cookies, boxes of candy, huge meals with special foods and, of course, parties. Add to that the extra tasks that leave many of us short on time, and it's easy to understand why many people feel like it's hopeless to stick with diet and exercise goals.
Often, we set course on a path of overindulgence and vow to make improvements in our health after Jan. 1. This holiday frenzy usually adds up fast -- to the tune of about 5 to 7 pounds of weight gained between now and the end of the year. It doesn't have to be this way. We can enjoy the season and manage our health. Here are three top tips to a healthier holiday season:
1. Set realistic goals: Weight maintenance may be more realistic than weight loss. Modifying your workout schedule to three days a week rather than your usual five would be better than quitting altogether until after New Year's. Think about your personal situation and set yourself up for success.
2. Take the focus off food: Plan and enjoy events that involve friends, family and fun. Children's school performances, volunteer activities, holiday caroling, making crafts or cards, ice skating, going to a live theater performance or watching favorite movies are a few options. Even if food is the center of attention, as in the case of a special holiday meal, make it a point to find joy in the people and other activities that are taking place.
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3. Be assertive: Remember that it is OK to say, "No, thank you." Don't feel guilty for declining offers for food, candy or beverages when you aren't hungry or don't want them; and don't feel obligated to clear your plate.
Collins-Higgs is a registered dietitian at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto.