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Eating Healthy for the Holidays

healthy-holidaysWith busy schedules often packed full of parties, get-togethers and social events, finding time to eat right and choose healthy food options during the holidays can be a challenge.

But with a little planning and some smart thinking, Dawn Rodriguez, RN, BSN, Director of the Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Program at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen, said it can be possible to enjoy holiday festivities and reduce stress while keeping weight gain in check.
“There will always be unforeseen situations that arise, but for the most part, go into the season with a plan for everything, including how to enjoy the parties that you are invited to, how to get all of the shopping done in time, or how to get all the goodies made in time,” she said. “A suggestion is to create a calendar with your events and dates that you would like to have things accomplished by marked on the calendar. Each day prior to those dates, write down tasks to do in order to accomplish the goal and hopefully keep from being so stressed about not being ready or having things finished.”

How to manage stress during the holidays is often at the top of many wish lists.

Rodriguez said that while there are many ways to manage stress, one of the most effective can be through eating a healthy diet containing key vitamins and minerals, including:
Whole Grains – An excellent source of B vitamins which can boost energy and combat the fatigue commonly associated with stress. Foods that contain whole grains include whole-grain breads, breakfast cereals, brown rice, and oatmeal.
Fruits and Vegetables – Eating fruits and vegetables with antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene can help decrease the production of cell-damaging free radicals. Good sources of vitamin C are bell peppers, broccoli, oranges, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Good sources of vitamin E include spinach, blueberries, and olives. Foods with beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and romaine lettuce.
Magnesium – Helps regulate stress hormones. When the body experiences chronic stress, individuals may experience headaches or fatigue. Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, salmon, black beans, and navy beans.
Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds are high in vitamin E, which can help boost the immune system. Vitamin E can be found in almonds and sunflower seeds. Zinc also helps with the immune system and can be found in Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
In addition to what you eat, how you eat can be just as important, Rodriguez said. Some tips for healthy eating when attending those parties or special events include:
Avoid skipping meals for the day, trying to “save” up for the party later.
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