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Healthy Habits For The Holiday Season

You may not always have control over which foods are served at holiday gatherings, but you can still enjoy a healthy holiday season, according to nutrition experts at Mayo Clinic.

"If you’re sensible and use moderation, you can enjoy the holidays and still stay healthy," said Mark Glen, a registered dietician at the clinic. "For example, celebrate the holidays on a handful of special days rather than the entire season, which can least for six weeks or longer."

Here are some additional tips to help you dine diligently and maintain healthy diet and exercise habits, according to Glen:

* Don’t give up the family favorites, but enjoy them in moderation. Have a few holiday cookies or your favorite treat periodically, but not every day. Ask yourself if you really need that second or third treat. Remind yourself that those calories "go on a lot easier than they come off."

* Choose your foods wisely at buffets and dinner parties. Raw fruits and vegetables, with a small amount of dip, are good choices. Boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce or lemon also is a good choice. Limit the number of high-calorie foods, such as rich desserts or appetizers. Select only a few items that you really want and enjoy small portions. To curb your appetite and avoid overeating, eat a small, low-calorie snack before starting on the buffet or dinner.

* Set a limit of one or two alcoholic drinks per occasion. Calories from alcohol can accumulate quickly, so when you’ve reached your limit, switch to calorie-free sparkling water, diet sodaor plain water with a twist of lemon or lime.

* Balance out the added calories with extra exercise. Join a neighbor for a brisk walk. Ride an exercise bike or walk on a treadmill while watching television. Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Park in the far corner of the parking lot so you can take a brief walk to your destination. Short doses of exercise add up, and varying your activities makes it easier to keep doing them.

* Enlist your family’s support for a healthier holiday by taking food off center stage. Think of non-food ways to celebrate, such as sledding, skating, singing or watching a movie (avoid fattening snacks while viewing).

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