- Kate Coleman, Staff Writer
Dec. 1: Keep expectations manageable by not trying to make the holiday "the best ever." Try to set realistic goals. Pace yourself. Make a list and prioritize the most important activities.
Dec. 2: Plan ahead. Mark your social calendar with all food-related gatherings. You will realize what you have to deal with, and you will relieve many of your food-related anxieties.
Dec. 3: Keep it simple. When organizing holiday menus, make sure they're not complex. Plan foods you know how to prepare. Consider what can be made ahead and frozen.
Dec. 4: When you are too busy, stop and breathe a short prayer of thanksgiving. You will be refreshed.
Dec. 5: Wear your seat belt. Seat belts save lives all year round, but a reminder may be important during the holidays when rushing around to run errands may cause you to forget.
Dec. 6: Shop alone so you won't be distracted from your gift list or budget. Shop when you are well-rested and well-fed. You can make expensive mistakes when you are tired.
Dec. 7: Make sure to include time for yourself and your immediate family. Call a friend you've not seen recently, take a walk, a nap or a bubble bath. Read a book.
Dec. 8: Avoid overindulging in eating and activity. This is good advice for everyone, but it can be particularly important for those with diabetes, heart conditions or high blood pressure.
Dec. 9: Reduce stress by being realistic about what you can accomplish. For each holiday commitment you make, subtract one of the ordinary duties from your life.
Dec. 10: Good nutrition is important at all times, but can be especially important when you are under stress. Eat at least two servings of good quality protein each day.
Dec. 11: Balance extra food with extra activity. If you feel you've blown it, burn those extra calories with exercise. A 15- to 20-minute daily walk can work wonders to relieve stress during the holiday season, and may ward off using food as a stress-coping mechanism.
Dec. 12: Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. In addition to the B vitamins they provide, the high potassium, fiber and water content of fruits and vegetables will help keep your sodium-potassium ratio in balance.
Dec. 13: When drinking alcoholic beverages, alternate diet sodas or seltzer with liquor-based beverages. It's wise to stand away from the bar to reduce the urge to drink away the evening.
Dec. 14: Try to make your friends and family - not food - the center of your holiday season. Engage in more conversation and less munching; circulate with a little plate.
Dec. 15: If you fear the hostess will have only fattening fare, bring a food item you'll feel safe munching on, such as a vegetable platter with a low-fat dip.
Dec. 16: It could be tough with loved ones or those you haven't seen in a long time, but avoid hugging those who have colds.
Dec. 17: Feeling angry at someone today? Forgive them and pray for their well-being. The stress level will be reduced for both of you.
Dec. 18: To avoid spreading illness to friends, co-workers or family members, stay home if you are sick.
Dec. 19: Drink plenty of fluids and limit salt. Stress tends to cause the body to retain sodium and water and lose potassium through the kidneys.
Dec. 20: Try to act Christ-like toward store employees and fellow shoppers. Cheerfulness and patience may be reflected back to you.
Dec. 21: The holiday season coincides with the cold and flu season. Wash your hands frequently and well. Avoid sharing eating utensils.
Dec. 22: Do something for someone else. It is an old remedy, but it can help. Volunteer some time to help others.
Dec. 23: Take time to get enough sleep; take time to slow down. Take time to enjoy the festive sights, sounds and smells that the season brings.