Harvey County

Your Health This Holiday Season

Sharing is caring. This is a mantra you probably first heard at a young age, and it tends to come up often during the holiday season. Is sharing always caring, though? In the case of food gifts, I’m not so sure that it is.

While there are many things I love about the holiday season, one thing I dread is the omnipresence of sweet treats. Baked goods, candies and other homemade sweets seem to be everywhere, and avoiding them can take significant planning and effort!

A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the average American adult gains about a pound between mid-November and early January each year. Although a pound might not seem like a big deal, those pounds add up when they’re not burned off in the spring, summer and fall months, which is the case for many Americans. A study published in the same journal concluded that at least half the weight gained during the holiday season remains into the summer months and beyond. With this information in mind, giving baked goods to people who are trying to watch their weight, cut back on sugar consumption, count calories or generally make more healthful food choices is hardly a gift. Presenting well-intentioned people with tempting sweet treats can sabotage even the best of efforts!

If you like to bake during the holiday season, consider trying an alternative hobby or starting a new tradition that supports health. There are many gifts you can create or give, many that are suitable as family activities, that don’t involve food. And, if you are a regular recipient of holiday baked goods, don’t be afraid to suggest the following ideas to the bakers in your life:

  • Make and exchange ornaments, small gifts or hand-written cards in place of cookies and candies.
  • Write thank you letters to firemen, policemen and members of the armed forces to express your gratitude for their service instead of donating baked goods.
  • If you are hosting a party, ask attendees to bring donations for a local charity (food pantry, animal shelter, etc.) instead of hostess gifts.
  • Play board or card games with children when you would typically spend time baking together, or take a family trip to a park, museum, theater production or holiday lights display.
  • In the workplace, suggest a “no dumping” policy to discourage coworkers from bringing cakes, cookies or other desserts from home. Bring healthy snacks and pack healthy lunches throughout the holiday season so you’ll be less tempted to fill up on sweet treats that you do encounter.

*Adapted from the blog Live Smart Ohio

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