3 Tips to end the year strong and heart healthy!

Why wait for the New Year? Finish this year strong!

There are a few weeks left to go in the year. Did you know, Americans gain, on average, one to two pounds during the holiday season1, far less than the five-pound gain commonly asserted. That may not sound like much but it can add up over the long run.

Here are 3 simple wellness tips to help you enjoy the festivity of the holiday season:

Do Not Let Food Dominate the Season

As much as we anticipate the joy of holiday feasts, we do not have to let food dominate the season. We want to be thankful for our health, our family and friends. Taking walks with family after dinner, or enjoying a board game over healthy snacks, are great activities to embrace gratitude in the season, and balance out the occasional stress that comes with the holidays. It also mitigates the cycle of food and weight gain during the holidays. The American Heart Association has great healthy tips on managing stress by visiting www.heart.org/healthyliving.

Maintaining Balance

We can still maintain the basic features of a healthy lifestyle even in the hectic holiday season. Saving room for that big party feast? Bad idea. Being overly hungry leads to overeating. Research<sup>2</sup> shows with protein-rich breakfasts, people consume fewer calories, and reduce unhealthy snacking with high-fat foods. Stay hydrated with fluids, preferably water, on long days of entertaining. No time for the 30 minutes daily walk recommended by American Heart Association? Aim for 10 minutes. It is not all or nothing!

Slow Down and Savor

Holiday dinners tend to be large and prolong. Go ahead and savor your favorites. Be mindful that research shows we tend to eat 44% more food3 when eating with other people. Sample smaller portions before going back for seconds. Slow down and savor, to avoid overeating in joyful company. Re-purpose leftovers for a light lunch the next day to save time.

Why wait for January? Follow a few simple strategies to finish strong in 2018!

A healthy diet is recommended by the American Heart Association to prevent heart disease and stroke, the number one and three killers in Western New York. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, and low in sugary, high-fat, fried foods are best for optimal health and to prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and health issues related to obesity.

The Association’s Healthy For Good campaign offers tips on healthy living under four pillars of health: Eat Smart, Add Color, Move More and Be Well. Aim to eat healthier, exercise 30 minutes daily and enjoy a good night’s sleep and stress-free activities. For more information, visit www.heart.org/healthyliving.

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1Yanovski JA. N Engl J Med. 2000.
2 Leidy HJ. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013.
3de Castro J. Nutrition 2000

By Cindy Chan Phillips, MS, MBA, RD, Director of nutrition education at non-profit New York Beef Council. Reach Cindy at cphillips@nybeef.org

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