Workforce Wellness – Bon Secours


Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday: Put Yourself in Charge

By Judy Mitnick, MS, RD, CDE, Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy & Sports Performance

It’s that time again: the time for parties, the time for family and friends, the time for food … and more food, and more food. It’s no wonder people often feel like someone else takes control of their eating during this time of year.

As a Registered Dietitian, I often envision the holiday season as a river filled with white-water rapids. Too many times, folks seem to fall into the rapids and are carried helplessly down the stream of excess calories and too little movement. This year, however, you can make a conscious choice to grab onto a tree branch and control the speed that you head down the holiday river rapids. You also can still enjoy yourself. The key is to go into this holiday season with your eyes open and make deliberate choices instead of merely letting the season carry you down the river.

Be Picky this Year

During the holidays, many of us eat some foods simply because they are there. Treat yourself to foods that are special for the holidays, but skip the excess calories from ordinary, year-round foods like potato chips. At buffets, it always helps to survey the line before putting any food on your plate. This way, only your real favorites wind up in front of you and you won’t find yourself absent-mindedly picking on whatever is left on your plate. You will stay in control and still feel part of the festivities.

Watch the Holiday Spirits

It’s easy to go overboard on calories while toasting the season. Not only does alcohol provide excess calories itself, but it also makes it easier for us to lose focus on our food choices after just a couple of drinks. During this holiday season, set a goal to pace yourself on the cocktails and choose to have water or diet soda in between alcoholic drinks. When you do have a cocktail, you can decrease the calorie content tremendously by choosing calorie-free mixers such as seltzer or diet soda instead of tonic or juices. Light beer and dry white wine tend to be lower calorie choices, as well.

Take Advantage of Extra Activity

It is more important than ever to keep up your exercise routine during the holiday season. Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse to skip the workouts. You may find that exercising in the comfort of your own home – using exercise DVDs, computer downloads, fitness video games or workout equipment – can help you fight the temptation to hibernate this winter. In addition, use the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and errands to add additional calorie-burning activities. Instead of fighting for the closest parking spot at the mall, avoid the frustration altogether by parking far from the entrance. Once you’ve finished your shopping and returns, use the mall as a great way to get in your extra walking steps instead of going right home. I promise you¸ the more you move during the holidays, the more energy you’ll have to get through the stress and actually enjoy them.

Make a promise to yourself not to be carried down the holiday rapids this year. Put yourself in control and you will find yourself feeling festive and fit into the New Year.

Take charge of your health by staying up to date with screenings and checkups. Schedule an appointment with a Bon Secours primary care provider. Call 804-359-WELL or visit

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