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‘Tis the season …to be merry, to be jolly and for many, to let common sense when it comes to healthy eating go right out the window.  The alarming part is that it only takes that short period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to undo a good portion of the healthy lifestyle many of us lead the remainder of the year.  Before you know it, that first week in January arrives and your clothes are super snug, your feeling lethargic and/or suffering from gastrointestinal upset caused by foods you don’t typically include as part of your regular diet.  How to remedy the situation?  Well, this year I’m going to try to stop it before it even begins.  I’ll share my strategy with you and please comment on this blog and share your own ideas or tricks you may have as well!

Parties & Events: Serious danger zone alert!  Usually these holiday events are filled with high calorie, high fat food options and lots of alcoholic beverages.  I’ll start by eating something light prior to going so I don’t arrive hungry.  Try checking out the entire spread before eating anything.  Allow yourself one “treat” (something you normally don’t eat) and then pick on the healthy options provided (fruit/vegetables, hummus, boiled shrimp or chicken skewers).  Limit your alcohol intake and sip water or tea in between drinks.

Family Holiday Meals: If you are hosting this won’t be very hard–simply make lots of veggie side dishes and you can fill up on them.  If you’re going to someone’s home for the meal, offer to bring a side dish and make sure you take more of the healthy options available, and less or none of the higher fat/calorie dishes.  It’s all about choices.

Exercise: My biggest failure this time of year is getting to the gym.  Things get so busy it’s hard to find time to do everything.  I’m making a commitment to myself this year to carve out an hour at least 3 times a week specifically for this reason and I’m determined to stick to it.  I know I’ll feel so much better if I do.  I’ll let you know how this goes in January …

Here are a few more diet and weight management tips that may help you get through the season. Good luck everyone–I think if we stick to these guidelines for the most part, we should be able to make it through the holiday season without much damage and feel a lot better come 2012!

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I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week.  In light of the holiday, I want to remind everyone (and myself!) to be thankful for what you have.  It’s so easy to become bogged down with life’s every day troubles and forget about the good things we have or take them for granted.  I know I do it.

Even if everything isn’t perfect in your life right now, try to find something you can be thankful for–maybe it’s your good health, your supportive family, your loyal friends, your children, the fact you enjoy your job.  Heck, it can even be that your favorite team won in last week’s matchup.  You get the idea–there’s always something to be thankful for.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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One of the most difficult things about your kids growing older is the way you somehow morph from being the wisest person in the world who they want to be around all the time to the person who doesn’t have a clue about anything (in their eyes) and who they cringe at the thought of being seen with.  Ah yes, the teen years–you’ve got to love them.  Seriously though, it really is enough to make you want to stop hounding your kids about the things you KNOW are right.  It can be staying on top of them about their school work, watching what they’re eating (“A piece of fruit is what you’re having for snack, not a box of cookies!”), or more serious things like drugs and alcohol.

I bring this topic up because recently I’ve noticed that some of my peers are having an equally difficult time dealing with this as well and from a variety of different things that have happened around our community it makes me wonder if they’re taking the route of friend over parent.  On our school’s website there is a downloadable sheet for parents titled, “A Parent’s Guide to Teenage Parties.”  It contains helpful little nuggets like, “agree to rules ahead of time that might include: no alcohol, no drugs, etc.”  Seriously??  I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but I find it hard to believe that any responsible parent wouldn’t already know this.  However, this is the problem–so many parents don’t like that they’re considered outside the “in” crowd of their child’s friends and they will go to great lengths to win back that kind of affection from their teens.

I admit that this is a difficult time as a parent and I’ll sum up my own perspective like this:  I don’t particularly like that the kids are more distant right now, but I understand it’s part of growing up.  I also understand that I do know what is best for them and although they may not agree or like it right now, one day they will realize it too.  In the meantime, I’m going to continue making unpopular choices if it’s for their welfare, even if that means they don’t like me right now.  I’d rather them grumble about me, but be safe and healthy than think I’m cool, while potentially putting them at risk in one way or another.  Besides, my kids have enough friends–they’ve only got one mom.

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My family is staying home and I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner myself this year (yikes!).  At first I thought I was going to have to throw my commitment to the MyPlate dietary guidelines out the window for the day (filling half our plates with fruit or vegetables).  But after thinking about it I realized that Thanksgiving will actually make it easier than ever for me to do this!

How so, you ask?  Yes, the turkey is important, but  think about all those side dishes everyone loves.  Plus, with a little tweaking I can make some of those healthier than the traditional versions.  I did a bit of searching on the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters recipe index and I’ve come up with some good substitution choices for a few sides.  I will roast a turkey breast, make the traditional bread stuffing and an apple pie for dessert.  Here are the other side dishes I’ve chosen to complete the meal:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Glaze
Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup
Green Beans with Roasted Red Peppers

Sounds like a lot of food, right?  I’m skipping the dinner rolls and my thinking is that with so many veggie sides, everyone will take smaller portions of each with lots of leftovers.  Another thing I love is that the above dishes all meet the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters strict nutrition guidelines as a healthy recipe.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, try adding a few more healthy side dishes to your menu.  If you’re headed to someone else’s home, why not offer to bring a dish and make it a fruit or vegetable side dish?  The way I look at it is the more of the good stuff I put on my plate the less chance I’ll feel like Tom Turkey when the meal is over!  Happy Thanksgiving!

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