Health Tips

Making Holidays Healthy AND Fun

Holiday season’s in full swing and for many of us that unfortunately means overindulging. But UCF College of Medicine faculty member Dr. Magdalena Pasarica, an M.D.-Ph.D. who specializes in family medicine and nutritional science, offers ways to enjoy the holidays in a healthier way.

Her first piece of advice: Remember that the holidays are about socializing, celebrating and sharing with family and friends. Food may accompany the celebration but it shouldn’t be the focus because “when you concentrate on food, things can easily get out of control,” Dr. Pasarica explains.

So as you’re planning holiday events, remember that spending time with the people you love is what makes festivities great, not the amount of food you eat or serve. You don’t have to be stuffed at every sitting. Choose quality of food over quantity. A bite of a great cheese or dark chocolate you love is just as enjoyable – and much healthier – than devouring the entire box of candy or four cheese-filled baked potatoes. (And you won’t feel miserable two hours later.)

When you’re cooking holiday meals, consider these simple changes that will bring more health to your eating:

While you can plan healthfully for your own events, you also have to navigate holiday parties. Here are Dr. Pasarica’s tips for handling the buffet line:

Finally, remember the two lessons Dr. Pasarica says she learned early in her nutritional training – the key to a healthy diet is moderation and variety. Encourage your family members – especially children – to appreciate many different kinds of foods. Show them that healthy foods can look and taste great. And when it comes to portions, don’t go crazy. “By creating healthier foods for the holidays, we’re setting new traditions and leading by example,” she said. “We’re improving the health of our children now and in the future. Every parent wants that. We all want our children to be happy and healthy.”

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