Maintain healthy goals during the holidays

The festive season is upon us. The lights, the music and the decor lift our spirits and put us in a fantastic mood where we embrace all the lovely things that are offered at this time of the year.

Celebrations, events and social gatherings quickly fill our calendars and before we know it, we’ve had enough cute little angel-shaped shortbread cookies to make us all feel like we’ve just eaten a whole pound of butter.

Treats, sweets, long buffet tables with nothing but deliciousness stand before us at almost every turn. For seniors (and pretty much everyone else), it’s important to enjoy the offerings that we’re fortunate enough to receive, but it’s equally as important to be careful not to overindulge.

For those of a more mature age, health restrictions such as diabetes, gout or high blood pressure will often trump whether or not we reach for yet another dainty, but we all know how easy it can be to get carried away.

No one enjoys that extremely full feeling, being bloated or sluggish as a result of overeating high-fat, high-calorie foods.

If you’re someone who doesn’t always have the willpower to say no, use these tips to help maintain your health goals and feel great during the holiday season.

  • Mothers all around the world have been saying it for years and it still holds true. Eating a healthy, nutritious breakfast is important. Be sure to include a protein (eggs or nuts) and at least one fruit or vegetable. This will help to prevent overeating.
  • Plan ahead. If you’re asked to bring a dish to the potluck, make it nutritious. Find a recipe for a great vegetable side dish or bring a fresh salad (keep the dressing on the side).
  • Nibble on healthy snacks throughout the day. It’s a good idea to have an orange or a package of salt-free nuts on hand to munch on. This will help to keep sugar levels stable and stave off hunger so that you’re not as tempted to devour an entire plate of homemade fudge.
  • Keep active. Try to carve out some time for a short walk, a refreshing swim or 30 minutes on the exercise bicycle at the gym or in the fitness room.
  • When you are filling your plate, choose healthy options first. Choose lean turkey or ham, vegetables and greens. Also, beware of portions. Don’t deprive yourself completely of high-calorie options, but take a small portion so that you enjoy the taste, but don’t gorge yourself. This way you won’t feel like the stuffed turkey that you just ate and left feeling guilty for overeating.
  • Finally, don’t forget about your fluids. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Also, it is ok to enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner. Red wine is high in resveratrol, a phytochemical that helps fight cancer and heart disease. You might also want to consider having a cup of tea before or even in place of dessert. Tea has a lot of antioxidants and the hot liquid will help to make you feel satisfied and full. This means you may just end up leaving that last piece of fruitcake for someone else to enjoy!