Celebration of fitness and discipline

December 21, 2005|By LYNN F. LITTLE

It's that season again, when we eat too much and move too little. It's the time when tempting foods are everywhere and darker, colder days make it easier to sit on the couch than to be active. It's the season when many of us put our health on hold until it's time for New Year's resolutions again.

There's a much more positive way to approach the holiday eating season. You can maintain your weight, increase your energy level, and stay healthy throughout the holidays without giving up any of the traditional treats. Just imagine how nice it would be to not need a January diet next year!

Paying attention to nutrition and fitness also can have significant mental health benefits. Eating well and being active are two wonderful ways to reduce stress and keep your holiday spirits intact.

Here are three tips for healthful eating during the holidays (and year-round, too):


1. Balance holiday food with enjoyable activity: Promise yourself 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day - and make active time fun time. Take a walk to see holiday decorations up close. Dance with someone you love. Play outside with children. Meet a friend at the gym.

2. Get the most nutrition from your calories: Enjoy nutrient-rich meals and snacks before you dive into the desserts and sweets. Enjoy a hearty breakfast every morning. Carry power snacks (nuts, dried fruit) for shopping expeditions and outdoor activities.

3. Make smart choices from every food group: Holiday goodies are a food group too! Make smart choices by going for quality rather than quantity. Choose the items that you really want to eat; choose moderate serving sizes; and choose to enjoy them slowly and thoroughly.

A healthful lifestyle doesn't require complex diets, expensive fitness equipment and hours out of our days. When we take time to savor food, we are satisfied with smaller portions. When we are active, we feel more energetic and in control of our lives.

Enjoy health this season!

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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