Being Healthy During the Holidays

By Alyssa Pflug

With the holidays approaching, trying to remain healthy is a concern for many people.

Amy Raabe, a dietetics professor at Youngstown State University, said that holiday weight gain is avoidable, but staying slim during the holidays requires planning and control, not fad diets and quick fixes.

“Contrary to the idea behind popular ‘quick fixes,’ they do not exist for healthy, sustainable weight loss,” Raabe said. “In addition, fad diets usually exclude a particular food group or insist on ridiculously low daily calorie intakes. Both of which can lead to nutritional insufficiencies or deficiencies.”

Alyssa Sidwell-Sutton, a YSU student, said that she feels like it is possible to be healthy during the holidays.

“I think it is possible, if you have a lot of self-control, otherwise it is very difficult to be healthy during the holiday season.”

Raabe mentioned that bodies need to get proper nutrition to perform their best during the holidays and all year round.

“Be proactive rather than reactive!” Raabe said. “We can consume 2,000 calories in a very short period of time. However, it takes your body hours to burn that many calories. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy special recipes that all of our families have for the holidays.”

Instead of filling your holiday plate with high calorie, high sugar or high fat foods, load up on nutrient dense ones instead.

“Practice moderation,” Raabe said. “A time-tested concept that allows you to enjoy the smells, sights, tastes of the holidays, but helps you to be reasonable in your consumption.”

Nicole Mullins, an exercise science professor at YSU, said that 30 minutes of physical activity a day is what is recommended by most health organizations.

“For someone who hasn’t been exercising, swim one day, walk one day, use the elliptical another day,” Mullins said. “It’s a great way to keep things … challenging.”

Mullins also mentioned that doing strength exercises at least two days a week is helpful, and that targeting major muscle groups is important.

“The biggest excuse people have is time,” she said. “They say [they don’t have any] — you can do 10 plus 10 plus 10, and it accumulates to 30 minutes … a lot of people say that’s not enough, but [it’s better than the people who] aren’t doing anything.”