09:21pm Monday 20 January 2020

Have Yourself a Healthy, Merry Little Christmas

christmas-partyCOLUMBIA, Mo. – This time of year is filled with opportunities for having fun, attending celebrations and parties, and rocking around the Christmas tree. To stay merry, keep cheeks rosy and avoid growing a belly that resembles a bowlful of jelly, University of Missouri health and fitness experts recommend taking some extra steps to stay healthy and happy this holiday season.

  • “Try eating around the clock at parties – grab the smallest plate available and look at the plate as though it was a clock face,” said Ann Cohen, associate state nutrition specialist for the College of Human Environmental Sciences (HES) and MU Extension. “From the noon to 6 o’clock position, fill it with lots of fruits and vegetables. At the 6-7 o’clock position, fill it with dip or salsa. From the 7-8 o’clock position, add some nuts. From 8-10 o’clock, place crackers and cheese. The 10-midnight position is the space for a sweet treat. Then, have a good time at the party ‘eating around the clock’, starting at noon and ending at midnight.”
  • “It is helpful to focus on behavioral strategies for exercise during the holiday season,” said Vicki Conn, associate dean in the Sinclair School of Nursing. “Effective strategies include setting specific behavioral goals, providing reminders or cues to exercise, rewarding yourself for exercising and self-monitoring your exercise by recording all exercise sessions. Exercise can ensure that you stay healthy and manage the stress that sometimes accompanies the season.”
  • “Be realistic – don’t focus on losing weight during the holidays. Focus on maintaining your current weight,” said Susan Mills-Gray, nutrition specialist with MU extension and HES. “Plan in advance to eat a little more when you face holiday temptations. This way, you can enjoy treats more often, and you’ll be less likely to binge.”
  • “Make sure whatever you’re offered is splurge-worthy,” Mills-Gray said. “Why waste calories on foods you can have anytime (chips, mixed nuts, dip, etc)? Try rating foods on a scale of 1 -10 (10 is best) and have a bit more of the foods that are truly special and unique to the season.”
  • “While holiday shopping, the coffee drink you choose many have more calories than you realize,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition specialist for extension and HES. “For instance, if you choose a mocha flavored coffee drink, it can contribute 400-500 calories to your daily caloric intake. If you need your cup of joe, ask for fat-free milk and no whipped cream, which may reduce the total calories to 200-300.”
  • “Relationship conflicts can increase during busy holiday times,” said Constance Brooks, nursing professor and instructor in the Master of Public Health Program. “To reduce stress, be clear in explaining to others what you want and need, instead of telling them what you want them to do. Then, let go of any emotional attachments to specific outcomes. ” 

The strategies are based on findings from MU research studies conducted throughout the year. For more information, visit:  http://missourifamilies.org/features/nutritionarticles/holidays.htm and http://nursing.missouri.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/conn/index.php

Story Contact(s):
Emily Martin, martinem@missouri.edu, (573) 882-3346

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