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Five Tips to Good Health for the Holidays

December 15, 2015

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This could be your best time to put together a "survival plan" to help you stay fit during the holiday season. Moffitt Cancer Center offers practical and creative ideas to help you manage your life by reducing calories, making healthy food choices and staying active – not only during the holiday season – but also throughout the New Year.

Healthy Holidays
To stay healthy during the holidays, include a lot of colors in the foods you eat.

Beyond merely looking and feeling better, keeping the excess pounds off by watching what you eat and exercising regularly, especially during the holiday season, is a key strategy for good health. Such a strategy of healthy habits leads to better quality of life. So involve your family and friends in creative, fun ways to spend time together, enjoy yourself, eat healthy, stay active and help fight cancer at the same time.

1. Get Moving!
Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Experts say that walking 40-45 minutes a day can be just as healthy as going to a gym. Consider the benefits of walking for both exercise and quality time with your friends and family members during the busy holiday season. Staying active helps maintain a healthy weight – which is important in lowering your risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

2. Include the colors of the holidays also in the foods you eat.
Include 8-10 vegetables, fruits and whole grains, rich in yellow, green, red and orange colors that signify they are full of phytochemicals, or plant chemicals. Knowledge about what causes and prevents cancer and other chronic diseases like heart disease has expanded significantly over the past decade, and we know that substances found in these plant foods are potentially preventive in terms of lowering one’s risk of cancer and heart disease. Most importantly, they contain complex carbohydrates, which are the "good carbs" – rich in fiber and naturally low in calories. For good health, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends filling at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.

3. Plan for some indulgence wisely.
If you are going to be at a party, adjust your food intake during lunch or breakfast that day to allow for a special treat for yourself. For example, consider indulging in a small piece fresh pumpkin or sweet potato pie that is filled with antioxidants.

Be watchful of alcohol consumption. The American Cancer Society reports that drinking alcohol can raise the risk of developing cancer and recommends avoiding alcohol. People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women. These daily limits do not mean it’s safe to drink larger amounts on fewer days of the week. Additionally, alcoholic drinks are full of calories, and drinking them could weaken one’s resolve to eat better. If you should decide to occasionally indulge, avoid heavy holiday drinks and instead opt for a light beer or a glass of wine.

Also watch out for heavy, sugary non-alcoholic drinks that are loaded with calories. Healthy beverage selections include sparkling water or hot green tea or apple cider.

4. Do not go to the party or the dinner table hungry.
Try not to skip your meals all day. Drink more water or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices beforehand. Plan ahead by eating a small snack such as whole grain crackers and cheese or some walnuts or almonds before you set out.

5. Be assertive; take charge of your eating.
Keep in mind you don’t have to eat everything, nor do you have to finish your plate. It is your choice. Pick the leaner meats and plenty of vegetables and whole grain foods. Stay away from cured, salty meats and foods that are swimming in butter.

At parties, limit your access to the buffet table and take pleasure in socializing and enjoying the party activities rather than the rich food.
 
Remember, there’s more to a healthier lifestyle than simply avoiding the risk of health problems. Your "survival plan" will help you have more energy and enthusiasm for life.

If you have questions regarding cancer care or would like to become a patient, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a patient appointment form.