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Published on December 14, 2016

The dos and don'ts of holiday eating

'Tis the season for cookie exchanges, office potlucks and holiday parties

If you're like most, the holidays are both the most wonderful and anxiety-provoking time of the year. Here is the info you need to navigate your way through any holiday food event.

Do indulge. Yes, we said it. The fastest way to "blowing it" is deprivation, so go ahead, indulge a little! But…
Don't eat everything. Be picky. Look at what's available. Assess your options. Then select the items that appeal most to you. If something doesn't live up to your standards, throw it away. You are not obligated to finish your plate or eat what does not satisfy you.

Do respect your body. There is not one food item that will be unavailable next year (or even at the next holiday gathering). So, when you're full, you're full. Honor the signal your body gives you and stop there. And likewise…
Don't ignore your hunger. Sure, you can wait an extra hour or two until dinner is served, but don't go all day without eating in order to prepare for a feast. You'll end up eating too much, too fast and feel miserable for the rest of the night.

Do drink water. Keep a large glass of water with you to stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages or sweet holiday favorites like cocoa or cider to keep calories and alcohol in check and fullness cues pronounced. And remember…
Don't overdo the alcohol. For women, moderation is 1 drink per day, not to exceed 4 per occasion or 7 per week. For men, up to 2 drinks per day, not to exceed 8 per occasion or 14 per week. One drink is 1 oz. hard liquor, 12 oz. beer or 6 oz. wine.
Do stay safe. Use a designated driver, call a cab or ask a friend for a lift home if you've been drinking.

Do enjoy your surroundings. There is so much more to the holiday season than food. Engage those around you in conversation. Take pride in the decorating you did. Go for a walk and admire the lights. Listen to holiday music and relish in the smells, too. Play with the kids or pets. Make the holidays about more than eating and establish traditions around some of the non-food delights too.
Don't overextend yourself. If you host the family gatherings, ask for help in cleaning, food preparation or cleanup. You don't have to do it all (nor should you!). If you tend to overdo it with gifts and struggle financially afterward, it's fine to cut back. If you feel overstretched traveling to all of the holiday events, don't! It's OK to say "not this year."

Do have a generous heart. And…
Don't forget those in need. It's easy to forget or simply overlook the number of people in our community who are in need. Consider giving money, time or resources to people or agencies that help with the basic necessities—food, shelter, clothing, personal care/hygiene, etc. You might volunteer your time and talents at a homeless shelter or nursing home, make a donation in the name of someone on your Christmas shopping list or even invite a friend or neighbor who would otherwise be alone into your home for the holidays. The holidays can be hard time for a variety of reasons, but giving to others is a great way to bring people together and make this time of year merrier for all.

Wishing your and yours the very best in 2017.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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