5 tips for happier, healthier holiday season | TahoeDailyTribune.com

5 tips for happier, healthier holiday season

Dr. Gregory Bergner

Dr. Gregory Bergner

The Holiday Season is an especially wonderful time of year. We look forward to holiday get togethers, to holiday meals, to good cheer and yes, treats. But we don't look forward to holiday pounds.

Many of our New Year's resolutions are testament to our holiday eating patterns. We vow to start a diet, or to exercise more, or change habits. We know we often consume more than we should. So what can we do to reduce the unhealthy parts of the holidays, and keep the treasured parts?

Here are five tips for holiday eating, drinking and exercising which will minimize weight gain while avoiding hunger or thirst, and will allow you to enjoy the season with less aftermath.

Tip 1: Start your Holidays off by going "whole," which means when you prepare or enjoy holiday entrées, select dishes with ingredients which are prepared "as grown," with minimal if any refining. Processed foods such as white flour or white rice have had much of their fiber removed. Although not absorbed, fiber feeds our gut bacteria, reduces intestinal inflammation, and reduces absorption of molecules such as cholesterol. Less in calories yet filling, fiber is important for us all.

Tip 2: Seize opportunities to eat colorful varieties of both vegetables and fruits. Make sure you fill at least half of your plate with these foods. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain nutrients called antioxidants, which counter the effects of free radicals. Free radicals form during normal metabolism as well as with exposure to environmental toxins, and can cause damage to important cell structures, processes and molecules, and these damages can be avoided with adequate antioxidant intake.

Tip 3: Drink a glass of water after a glass of wine, beer or other alcoholic beverage. It will fill you up, and make you less likely to overdo it on the alcohol front. Although it remains a popular beverage, alcohol has health issues, so it's best to limit your intake.

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Tip 4: Maintain or even increase your normal fitness routine. Before a planned large meal, get everyone together for a walk, ski, hike or to simply get out to gaze at the stars. From improving mental health to reducing cancer risk, exercise is vital. We are designed to move!

Tip 5: Take time out. Declare a holiday of your own! A break from smartphones, internet and TV. The holiday season is a time to be reflective, to be grateful, to make family memories, and to enjoy one another. It's a time to be neighborly and to help others. Our busy lives don't often allow time for these activities, and that's part of why we so enjoy the Holidays.

If you want help choosing healthier foods, or help with an exercise program, or find yourself overdoing alcohol, Barton Health is here to help. Give us a call at 530-539-6620 to learn more about wellness programs available to our community. Happy Holidays!

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

About the author

Dr. Gregory Bergner is a physician at Barton Health. He will be overseeing wellness programs, including the new Community Health Improvement Program at the Center for Orthopedics and Wellness when it opens in 2018.