Thank you for following the advice of everyone who cares: wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, wash your hands, eat healthy and be physically active. This Saturday consider joining the monthly Walk with a Doc organized by the Brody School of Medicine students. Put on your mask and walking shoes and meet at Lake Laupus located on 500 Medical Drive. You might meet new people, exercise, and become better informed about your medical health by trained, medical professionals.
Q I made it through Thanksgiving without overeating. Now how do I eat healthy until New Year’s? People have already started dropping off treats. LB, Greenville
A Katie Birchall, a senior ECU dietetic student has some suggestions for you. Here is what she says:
Ah, the burning question this season. This is easily the hardest thing to do at least in a normal year when it seems like there is an endless supply of drinks, desserts and homemade dishes that are irresistible.
We don’t really know what this season will bring but it sounds like you are lucky to have friends and family who want to share some joy with you. If any of the treats are suitable for sharing with those less fortunate than you, then do share.
To start, just take time to breathe. If you don’t manage your stress during the holiday season you may overeat or eat the less healthy way. So, plan. You are more likely to fill up your plate with lean protein and more vegetables and whole grains and move every day for at least 30 minutes if you write down and remind yourself of your goals.
For both health and safety reasons, when not eating at home you may be wise to bring your own food. The CDC recommends avoiding potlucks or buffets as these things can put you at a higher risk of contracting the virus. If you do attend a large gathering, be aware of how the serving utensils are being cleaned and handled. Don’t hover over food, wash your hands, and wear a face covering when not eating or drinking in both public and private.
If you think you might need some extra help with staying on track, it’s not too late to access the perfection holiday gift Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina created for us. It’s free and I have been enjoying the daily tips and recipes.
Maintain, Don’t Gain is a free seven-week program full of tips and encouragement for anyone this holiday season who wants to enjoy themselves while remaining healthy. Signing up gives you access to free recipes, a Facebook community support group, weekly challenges that hold you accountable, tips on how to navigate holiday parties, and manage stress. Visit https://esmmweighless.com/holidaychallenge/ to register. You can live anywhere and sign up.
And make sure you stay active. Alice Keene, Pitt County recreation director, suggests this is a good time to try a new trail or greenway. Check out the trails and parks at www.greenvillenc.gov. The family might like to try a new activity like pickleball. This combination of tennis, table tennis and badminton was developed back in 1965 by three dads seeking something for their children who were bored with their “typical” summer-time activities. Wintergreen Primary School has three courts.
Another contributing factor to depression and overeating is alcohol. Be aware of how much you are drinking and how it is making you feel. Many holiday beverages — those with alcohol and those without — are packed with sugar and calories. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking a lot in one sitting will put your body at a higher risk of contracting infections because alcohol slows down your body’s ability to help fight it off.
Please stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic by following the guidance of the health experts. At the end of the day, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed — not be a stressor. Do what you can this year to stay safe and healthy while looking forward to a less stressful 2021 holiday season.
Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Ph.D., is an affiliate professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at [email protected]