Choose a healthier you for the holidays and new year

The holiday season brings joy — but it doesn’t have to bring unwanted pounds. Whether it’s your mom’s eggnog or Aunt Judy’s homemade holiday cookies, it can be tough to pass up those favorite holiday foods you taste only once a year. After all, ’tis the season to indulge, right?

Before you reach for that next gingerbread cookie, think about this: Extra pounds can affect more than your ability to fit into your holiday party apparel. Being overweight also can increase your risk for cancer and other diseases. This holiday season, choose to put your health first. To stay well, the American Cancer Society recommends:

• Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life;

• Staying active with at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week;

• Eating a healthy diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables

And limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.

Struggling with those during the happy — but often hectic — holiday season?

Here are a few tips:

• Get off to a good start. Don’t go to a party hungry. Snack on healthy, filling foods before you leave the house. If your stomach isn’t growling, you’ll be less tempted by high-calorie options.

• Once you arrive, ask for a glass of water to help you feel full. And don’t head straight for the food — make a point of greeting friends or introducing yourself to new people.

• Think small. When it does come time to eat, use a small plate and fill it first with healthy choices such as fresh fruit and veggies (going easy on the dip). Leave just a little space for a bite of whatever decadent treat you’re craving, and eat that only after you’ve filled up on the more nutritious offerings.

• Position yourself for success. If you’re standing by the buffet table or facing the food while seated, you’ll be tempted to graze. Turn your back to the table, and focus on having fun, not having food.

• Avoid alcohol. Not only are alcoholic beverages loaded with calories, but drinking them tends to weaken your resolve to eat better. However, if you choose to consume alcohol, avoid heavy holiday drinks and stick with light beer or a glass of wine instead.

For more tips on making healthy food choices, staying active year-round, and reducing your cancer risk, visit or call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

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