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Heathly Holiday Habits Aren't So Hard

Whether its a giant Thanksgiving feast or upcoming holiday party, this time of year can throw a wrench in our healthy diet plans — especially when training for a marathon. But with a little foresight, holiday treats can be made healthier, candy can be replaced with more wholesome options and your family can actually make it through the holidays without gaining a pound.

It can be very tempting to overindulge in holiday treats when training for a marathon but it's important to stick to your normal healthy diet as much as possible. "Lighten up your party choices by replacing traditional appetizers with low-fat cheese and meat trays or vegetable and fruit platters with reduced fat dressing or low-sugar dips," suggests Susan Welter, a marathon runner and registered dietitian with Cigna. "You can also modify your favorite homemade cookies, pies and cakes by substituting fat and sugar with low calorie options."

Welter suggests replacing butter or oil with prune puree or unsweetened applesauce and using a zero calorie artificial sweetener for some or all of the sugar in recipes. Welter also recommends replacing candy and other saturated fat-laden treats with granola bars (some even have bits of candy in them), nuts or trail mix, fruit cups or dried fruit, such as raisins. Other holiday temptations can be avoided using these tips:

  • Start each day with a high fiber breakfast such as oatmeal with flaxseed or whole grain waffles with peanut butter.
  • Get out of the kitchen we tend to continue to nibble mindlessly as we "help out with the clean-up".
  • Dont keep candy, sweets and snacks foods out and easily accessible.
  • Offer to bring a dish to a holiday party and make it healthy such as a bean and vegetable salad or mixed fruit dessert.
  • Watch out for liquid calories drink sugar free hot cocoa, sip on white wine with seltzer water and alternate alcoholic drinks with diet or club soda.
  • Have family and friends participate in board games or play cards anything that will help keep the attention off of food.
  • Take a walk to get out of the house, away from the munchies and burn off some extra calories.

Welter also reminds us to practice portion control - as all food is okay in moderation. If you tend to overeat at your Thanksgiving meal, try filling half your plate with vegetables, one-quarter with starches such as mashed potatoes and stuffing, and one-quarter with protein. Limit desserts to the size of your fist and use small plates and serving dishes. And slow down a meal should last 20-30 minutes for the first helping alone, not 30 minutes for three helpings, according to Welter.

"During this time of year in particular, most people feel stressed due to increased activities, gatherings, or holiday preparations," said Welter. "Exercise is the very best way to combat stress, particularly during the holidays. So keep with your marathon training schedule all season long!"

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