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7 Ways to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays

University Dining's dietician Lisa Eberhart offers tips for staying healthy over the holidays.

It’s tough not gaining weight over the holidays. Colleagues bring tasty treats to work, and events offer festive foods that are delicious yet often high in salt and sugar. The American Heart Association warns salty and sugary foods can lead to heightened blood pressure. But you can remain fit and healthy throughout the season, says NC State’s registered dietitian, Lisa Eberhart. This week Eberhart sat down with the Bulletin to share her tips.

Don’t go to a party hungry.

Don’t arrive at a party feeling famished. Eating even an apple beforehand will reduce the hors d’oeuvres and food you consume. And drink plenty of water. Many people overeat, thinking they are hungry when really they are thirsty.

Have a different focus beyond food.

At a holiday party try speaking with everybody in the room. This will shift the focus away from the treats and more toward people.

Don’t hang out near the food.

Out of sight is out of mind. Standing near the chips and dips at a party increases what you consume. The same is true at work. Keep holiday cookies or chocolates away from a central location within view from your room and in a break room, for instance. And re-gift edibles to students and others receiving fewer treats.

Keep exercising.

Maintaining your exercise seems impossible during the busy holiday season, but simple things like walking an extra lap around the mall after shopping will help. Wear a pedometer to see how far you walk while shopping. Organize a physical activity, such as skating, dancing or walking, after a large meal. Walk to work appointments where possible. If you don’t currently exercise but plan to next year, start now instead.

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

Choose cauliflower or green beans over extra stuffing or turkey. Choose salads over bean casserole and mashed potatoes where possible.

Reduce the fat content by a third.

When mashing potatoes use half cauliflower, half the butter and either buttermilk or skimmed evaporated milk instead. Replace some of the oil in brownies and other chocolate desserts with sneaky, low-fat and fibrous ingredients such as pureed prunes. Reduce the butter content in cookies by one-third and replace the volume with applesauce or sweet potato. Usually the fat can be reduced by one-third without raising suspicions.

If you don’t love it, avoid it.

Pleasing people by eating their food is a cultural norm. But if you don’t love Aunt Bulla’s ambrosia bake, leave it on your plate or feign an allergy. If you don’t love eggnog, replace this high-calorie drink with sparkling water or hot apple cider. You can waste it or waist it. You have to make that decision.

-Photography by Marc Hall.

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  1. If the gym is closed, take the opportunuity to walk on the many greenways in Raleigh. Challenge yourself to walk as many as you can this holiday season. If it is too late to walk the walkways when you get home from work, you can buy or rent many exercise dvd’s. Just a few suggestions….maybe others can suggest more.