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Monday Medical: Everything in moderation, even moderation

Susan Cunningham/For Steamboat Today
Monday Medical
MondayMedical

‘Tis the season of festive parties, time off with family and friends and bounteous food and drinks — all of which can get your healthy habits off track.

But the holiday season can be both fun and healthful. Rachel Van Parys, health and wellness coordinator for Yampa Valley Medical Center, shares her tips for enjoying the holidays without letting them take a toll on your health.

Be prepared for parties

One of Van Parys’ biggest tips is actually rather small — eat a healthy snack before heading out. A piece of fruit and handful of nuts or some vegetables and hummus can keep you from feeling ravenous and heading straight for the buffet.

“Having that little something in your stomach can really help set you up for success, so you don’t feel awful later and you don’t overindulge,” Van Parys said.

If you’re drinking alcohol, have a glass of water or sparkling water in between each drink — it helps you stay hydrated and ward off hangovers.

And if you’re heading to a potluck, make sure your contribution is healthy. You don’t have to limit yourself to a vegetable tray — meat that’s baked, not fried, or a healthier sweet, such as banana oatmeal cookies, are good options.

Stick to workout schedule

This time of year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with activities. Exercise is often the first thing to get dropped from an already full schedule.

But it shouldn’t be. Exercise has numerous benefits, from helping maintain a healthy weight to keeping stress down.

“Keeping that exercise consistent can really make or break your holiday season,” Van Parys said.

To make it fun, Van Parys recommends involving your friends and family. Take an exercise or yoga class together, or go for a walk before dinner.

“Exercising with others helps keep you accountable and helps prevent it from feeling like a chore,” Van Parys said.

Get your sleep

During sleep, your body recharges, rests and gets rid of toxins, and if you’re sleep-deprived, you may be more prone to reach for foods high in calories and sugar.

“It’s easy to let sleep fall through the cracks, but you need to keep it a priority,” Van Parys said. “Sleep is a foundation for your health. If you don’t get enough, it’s just putting a lot of extra stress on your body.”

Be realistic

Remember that the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you end up having an extra cookie … or two.

“This is a season of celebration, and indulgence is sort of the name of the game,” Van Parys said. “My motto is, everything in moderation, including moderation. If you’re going to celebrate, go for it, but try to get back on track at the next meal.”

One good practice is to take time to notice the food you’re eating, savor each bite and think about how much you enjoy it.

Another good practice is to take a moment when you wake up or before you go to sleep to check in with how you’re feeling.

“It helps to be aware so that you don’t get caught up in a spiral,” Van Parys said.

Though it’s important to enjoy the festivities, Van Parys encourages people to remember that a new year is just around the corner.

“It’s a good time to check in with yourself and think about how you want to take care of your body for the next year,” Van Parys said. “That can make all the difference for the year ahead.”

Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at cunninghamsbc@gmail.com.


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