The Richmond Register

December 23, 2012

Live healthy during the holiday season

Dr. Jack on Health and Fitness

By Dr. Jack Rutherford
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — For many people, the holidays mean a time of overeating and loss of routine. We often have good intentions, only to see them fall by the wayside. With a little planning however, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here is some advice on how to leave the holidays in better health than you entered them.

1 .Plan a daily exercise routine. Instead of sleeping in this holiday season, kickstart each day with a morning walk, jog or trip to the gym. It’s a terrific safeguard against weight gain and helps compensate for holiday indulgences. Taking a walk after a large holiday meal can aid in digestion and help alleviate the bloating and fatigue that naturally follows a heavy meal.

2. Fill up on foods with lots of bulk but few calories. Roughage in the digestive tract offers natural appetite suppression. At holiday parties, hit the veggie platter first, and then make a big salad and vegetable side dishes the cornerstone of your main meal. Aim to fill at least half your plate with veggies and bean dishes.

3. Avoid the great white hazards. These easily digested white flour products (white rice, white bread, rolls and biscuits, potatoes and baked goods make you hungrier and are a dietary pitfall. Choose healthier alternatives whenever possible (brown rice, whole wheat bread, bean salad instead of potato salad, whole-grain crackers, sweet potatoes over white potatoes).

4. Watch your sweet tooth. Desserts can be the health watcher’s downfall. Plan to stick with fruit and a piece of chocolate. If you must have other goodies, exert your inner discipline and exhibit good portion control.

5. Eat mindfully. Slow down and enjoy every bite, savoring how delicious your food tastes. Instead of lingering over the hors d’oeuvres during the pre-meal conversation, pre-plate a small helping and move to another area where you are less likely to refill. Remember, we tend to eat less if we can view it before we start.

6. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. It takes fewer calories to prevent hunger than it does to alleviate it. Don’t skip a meal to “save up” for the holiday feast. Eat a healthy breakfast with some fiber and protein. Have a snack a couple of hours before the big meal (a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts) and you’ll find yourself eating less overall.

Enjoy the holidays and improve your health.