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The holidays are a time of decadent food and time spent with friends and family. For some this can often "derail" what healthy practices/ routines they have in place causing unnecessary stress. For other's it is a good excuse to eat everything in sight and be physically inactive for a while which can lead to new not so great habits. Here are some tips to help you enjoy this holiday season, continue to indulge, and maintain the most important pillars of health.

1. Eat nutrient dense meals.

If you have a holiday party or know that you will be eating some very rich nutrient void foods for dinner, there is a better way to go about this instead of just avoiding the gathering all together. I suggest eating l0w(er) calorie meals that meet your macronutrient goals of protein, carbohydrates, and fat with lots of water throughout the day leading up to the event. This will make sure that you are covered with that last meal and won't need to necessarily rely on the nutrients you are getting from that pasta dinner or massive plate of mashed potatoes and can still enjoy yourself, guilt free.

II. Make physical activity a priority.

The holidays can get very busy very quickly and if you don't prioritize something it will most likely not get accomplished. Being physically active DOES NOT have to be an hour spent in the gym or a 4 mile run, it can be as simple as a few 15 minute walks throughout the day, an hour of house work, or a quick morning yoga session. Make it a goal to do SOMETHING to get your body moving each day during the holidays. This is not the time to try and squeeze in your normal workouts as they will most likely just get pushed to the back of your to do list. Make these goals small, achievable, and a priority.

III. Say No.

I saw this post on social media a few years ago and think it is highly underrated. There are so many things we say yes to around the holidays that you may not actually want to do. If you were invited to a big dinner party but aren't sure if you want to go, it is ok to say no! If someone made something and wants you to take a full plate and try it, say you will start with a small bite instead. If someone offers you a sugary holiday cocktail when you are trying to just stick with a glass of wine, it is OK to say NO!

IV. Scale it down.

Want to make gingerbread cookies or your favorite holiday dessert? Go ahead! It is the holidays and you should make those festive favorites, but do you need to make 24 of them? Try scaling down your favorite recipes if they are just for you so you can avoid the "eating them because they are there" phenomenon. I'm sure making 12 cookies will smell just as good as making 24 and will still give you the same holiday spirit.

V. Gift Everything.

Sometimes we get gifts we adore and some that we could do without like a cake or assortment of holiday cookies leftover from the work party. I want to remind you that there is no obligation to fully consume these gifts if they aren't actually something you really enjoy. Regift these to neighbors or other families instead of feeling the need to eat them all yourself. I find that what I keep in the house is what I eat, so this is a very important practice for me. This also goes for my previous point where if you don't actually want to scale down a recipe, give some of those cookies away!

VI. Eat Intuitively.

This is now more important than ever as you will most likely have access to a much higher volume of food that is also much more calorically dense. I encourage you to try to pay as much attention as possible to those hunger cues and if possible, stop eating when you are full. Taking sips of water between bites or starting with small portions may help you to do this. Eating slow is the best way to be able to tell when you are truly full.

VII. Do your best & DON'T STRESS!

These tips are not meant for you to stress over but are to help you be just a tiny bit healthier this season. My biggest takeaway is to relax. If you go to town on snacks and dinner the night before, just begin your next day as you usually would. Do not feel the need to over compensate, just start anew. Stressing about something that you can't completely control will never workout in your favor, so relax, enjoy yourself, eat some cookies, eat lots of veggies, and stay hydrated!



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What is a Registered Dietitian?

A food and nutrition expert who can work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice. RDNs are accredited health professionals that must meet state and government regulations to maintain their credential in addition to completing continuing education. RDNs can practice something called Medical Nutrition Therapy to improve the health of those who suffer from chronic diseases. 

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