Healthy for the holidays

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Delicious roasted turkey with savory vegetable side dishes in a fall theme

In the mist of the holiday mayhem, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Ensure that the only weight you put on this holiday season will be on your shoulders from hosting a holiday meal.

Drink lots of water

Jason Miller, operator at Fitness 19 in Arlington Heights, recommends drinking a glass of water before eating a big meal, which will help fill you up and ease digestion. Casey Schmit, adult and youth fitness director at North Suburban YMCA in Northbrook, added that your body burns more fat when you are well hydrated.

Don’t forget to exercise

Before or after dinner, take 20 to 30 minutes and go on a walk to keep from grazing on food. Miller said that a 30-minute walk can burn from 150 to 250 calories. Another easy way to burn calories is to take the stairs versus the elevator. Schmit added that just five minutes of stair climbing a day, five days a week will burn up to 21,000 calories a year.

Make healthy choices

Schmit recommended choosing natural products over those that come from a box or a bag. For example, apples are a better choice that applesauce, and chicken breasts should be chosen over chicken nuggets. “Just one super-sized fast-food meal of a sandwich, fries and soda can have more calories, fat and added sugar than people need in an entire day,” he said.

Don’t deprive yourself

Miller recommended using a smaller plate, such as a salad plate or saucer plate, and fill it up with whatever you want but only use the plate’s surface. By not stacking food up on the plate, and only going to the food table once, Miller said can see your calories decrease anywhere from 30 to 50 percent. Additionally, when it comes to alcohol or desserts, Miller recommended choosing one or the other, but not both.

Eat slowly

When eating, make sure to take your time. To give your hormones enough time to register with your brain and stomach for a feeling of fullness, “bottom line is you want to give yourself at least 20 minutes to eat,” Miller said. “The ways you can slow yourself down are putting your utensil down between each bite and or taking a drink of water.”

Stay stress free

People often eat because of stress or emotion. Miller recommended taking time to relax, whether it be reading a book or getting a massage, to avoid eating for stress management. Schmit noted that using relaxation exercises or yoga, such as downward dog or cobra, can help control anxiety.

Keep it under wraps

Finally, Miller said that you are more likely to have success with healthy eating if you keep your efforts low-key. “Don’t go to the table telling people you’re eating healthy,” he said. “There’s no need to bring attention to your food choices. People will feel that you are not enjoying yourself or that they should feel guilty about what they are eating. Your host will be disappointed if you’re not sampling all that she labored over in the kitchen.”