The consumption of special holiday foods combined with festive gatherings and vacation time do not have to be temporary distractions from practicing healthy habits. Dr. Chris Koutures, a pediatric and sports medicine specialist at CHOC Children’s, offers several easy ways for families to stay active during the holiday break. Dr. Koutures’ tips are a great way to promote good tidings and cheer!
• Light up your day. There are many wonderful holiday light displays around the area. Rather than drive through them, park or leave the car at home and take a stroll on foot. Walking will give you more time to appreciate the beauty and also burn a few extra calories.
• Become a mall walker. Malls and stores are more crowded this time of year, as are their parking lots. Take advantage of this – avoid the crowds looking for a closer parking spot and find those lonely spots farther away. The extra steps will be good for you! Once inside, make a plan to take the stairs, walk around or plain “window shop” for 10-15 minutes before stopping and making purchases.
• Give the gift of movement. Strongly consider gifts that involve and encourage activity. Even video games now have more interactive components that keep kids jumping, turning and breaking a sweat. Outdoor play toys and games are also a big hit with our consistent good weather, local parks and fields.
• “Pre-load” before a big party. Having a small meal before a big holiday party or gathering may reduce the temptation to overeat. At the party, remember sensible portion sizes (size of your fist is a good guide)and include healthy foods., Supervise younger children so they don’t have unlimited access to all the specialty holiday foods.
• Save some for later. Don’t be afraid to store away or freeze holiday candies or other sweets for later in the year. This will help reduce the risk of overeating and provide a special surprise months later, extending the good feeling of the holiday season.
• Don’t forget the “Big Five!” Make the commitment to include at least five fruits and/or vegetables a day. We are blessed in this area to have an ample selection of colorful, healthy foods that will complement the wonderful colors of the season.
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