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HSHS Hospitals offer nine ways to avoid weight gain this holiday season

HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals are encouraging residents to enjoy the holiday season, but also maintain their health. December can be a challenging time to make healthy choices and limit weight gain, but eating well during the holidays is possible.

Heather Krieger, a clinical dietitian at Sacred Heart Hospital, recommends the following nine health tips as you head off to holiday parties:

• Start your day off right. If you plan on treating yourself later, start your day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruit, veggies, low-fat or fat-free dairy and protein like eggs or natural peanut butter.

• Don’t starve yourself beforehand. Rather, eat a small, lower-calorie meal or snack such as fruit, veggies or a small portion of whole grain crackers so you aren't tempted to overdo your calorie intake for the day.

• Be mindful. Keep a mental checklist of how much you're consuming and make a conscious effort to balance your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies. Choose carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample and those you will skip.

• Avoid snacking throughout the day. Abide by the “out of sight, out of mind” slogan.
Once you’ve made your mindful food choices on your plate, cover up the food and put away.

• Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating and many alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.

• Don't rush to eat. Focus on friends and conversation, not on the food. Socialize and settle into the festivities before you make your plate. Move the socializing away from the buffet or appetizer trays as this will minimize unconscious nibbling.

• Be a great guest. Helping the host with dishes or serving drink allows you to be active and provides time away from the food. Your host will think you're great and it will help you stay true to your eating plan.

• Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating.

• Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects or activities like making wreaths or holiday ornaments with your family and friends or simply finding some fun outside making snow angels, jump into some snowshoes or taking a stroll to view holiday lights. Take this time to make memories for you and your family and friends.

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