10 tips for handling the holidays


The holiday season has arrived and so has some extra stress and unhealthy temptations. Beaumont experts weigh-in and provide 10 tips on how to enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season.

1) Keep healthy foods on hand. Toting pre-portioned snacks with you can be the difference between having a calorie-controlled, healthy snack and giving in to a high-fat, fast-food meal. "Whether it's a power bar or a banana, make sure you always have something healthy in your purse," says Silvia Veri, a registered dietitian and nutrition supervisor at the Beaumont Weight Control Center.

2) Use the five Ds to keep cravings in check. Grandma's cheesy potatoes and your neighbor's butter cookies may be calling your name but you can ward off the temptation to indulge in carb- and calorie-rich holiday foods by using the five "Ds," says Kevin Sloan, psychologist at the Weight Control Center. You can:

  • delay the urge to eat by 10 minutes
  • distract yourself with a physical or mental activity
  • distance yourself from the food source by walking away
  • determine how important it is to consume it
  • decide how much is a reasonable amount to eat

3) Break up your exercise routine. Don't have a half hour to work out? Then find 10 minutes three times a day to take a walk or do exercises at your desk.

4) Bring healthy foods. Load a tray with fresh veggies and fruit and bring for the next party. Send a fruit basket instead of a basket of baked goods.

5) Avoid alcohol. Alcohol not only has useless calories that are stored as fat but it also lowers your inhibitions, leaving you more at risk for consuming foods you would normally resist.

6) Get rid of party food leftovers. Don't bring them to the office where they will tempt you all day. Instead, have containers on hand at the end of the party to send leftovers home with guests.

7) Make sleep a priority. Research shows that a lack of sleep increases stress and leads to poor decision making in terms of diet and exercise. "When you are tired, you don't have the same presence of mind to make better choices for yourself," says Silvia.

8) Don't be a perfectionist. Here's Martha Stewart's secret: she has a staff. If you don't, then cut back on your list of "required" holiday chores to those that are manageable and still allow you to have fun.

9) Find your best stress relief... and stick to it. If yoga and tai chi aren't for you, keep trying until you find an activity that helps you to find inner peace. "Be playful, if you can," says Gail Evo, director of Integrative Medicine at Beaumont. "It's not homework. It's a matter of experimenting. When you find something that brings you peace, do it over and over."

10) Forgive yourself. If you give up your workout for a week or overindulge on a holiday dinner, get back to your healthy routine as soon as you can. "Let go of the guilt and get back on track," says Kevin. "Nobody is perfect."