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Athletes: Five healthy tips for navigating the holiday season

As you make your “list” (and check it twice) for the upcoming holiday season, promise to put yourself at the top of that list.

With all of the tempting treats, enticing entrees and decadent desserts the holiday season brings, fueling right and training hard – whether for health benefits or in preparation for an upcoming sport season – can still be priority with these five healthy holiday strategies:

  1. Choose healthier beverages – such as water, low-fat milk or unsweetened tea – in place of drinks with added sugar. Be mindful about what you are sipping on throughout the day, during meals and at holiday gatherings – the empty calories in beverages can really add up!
  2. Be party smart. Before heading out to a holiday party, eat a balanced meal or healthy snack – with your hunger at bay, you’ll be less likely to overindulge. At the party, avoid standing near the buffet table. Instead, mingle with friends away from the food and focus on socializing, not on eating. Prior to filling your plate, survey the options. Load up on fruits and vegetables first, choose a few of your favorite holiday foods and skip the rest.
  3. Put the emphasis on staying active. If possible, stick to your typical workout routine. If that’s not possible, do your best to find time to fit some activity in – perhaps it’s a walk with your family or taking time to play in the snow.
  4. Chew gum while you cook, chat or mingle. Let’s face it, the calories in the BLTs (bites, licks and tastes) can add hundreds of extra calories to your daily intake but chewing gum can help curb those snacking urges. What’s more, research indicates that chewing gum between meals may help suppress your appetite, so chew on.
  5. Lastly, eat only what you love – and leave the rest! There are certain foods that only come around during the holiday season; some of these foods we love (like grandma’s homemade fudge) and some we don’t (like the neighbor’s fruitcake). Instead of wasting calories on the foods you don’t love, or on foods you can have any time of the year, choose to enjoy the foods that are unique to the season. Then nix the guilt and take pleasure in sharing those special foods with the ones you love.

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