Obesity is out of control in our country and especially our state. I remember years ago while visiting Europe I was questioned if all of our citizens were fat and they further exclaimed that our food fetish – especially the American buffets — was a shameful decadence of food and caloric intake.
It’s no wonder that South Carolina has 33 percent of their population ranked as obese and over 60 percent of our people are overweight. Now what do we do, especially at the holiday season, when socializing, church dinners family gatherings, parties and food will be the topic of the day?
Here are some tips to help us get through these holidays and not be voted to wear the extra-large Santa suit next year:
1. Remove the stress: Plan time to de-stress which includes getting plenty of sleep, planning quiet time to plan meals so we don’t tend to grab fast food, and plan short but meaningful exercise times. Some exercise tips may include parking further out in the mall parking lot so you can get plenty of walking while shopping, walking the mall a few times, and a few moments of yoga or tai chi for most needed relaxation and breathing.
2. Don’t skip meals: Plan a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner and make sure you eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Eat holiday treats in small portions. Also while eating, concentrate on your food and enjoy the flavors. Don’t get side tracked by conversation, television, or hurried eating to get to the next party or football game.
3. Buffet blunders: When at a buffet or big table of food, survey the choices first and then choose wisely. An overloaded plate is not the way to enjoy good food or be healthy. Make sure your plate has fruits, vegetables, and lean meats or fish before adding on the carbohydrates. Try eating a half of a plate of food and fill your time with socializing instead of constant eating.
4. Calorie watch: Be aware of beverage caloric intake. Alcoholic beverages can be especially high in sugars and empty calories. Sodas and sugar beverages can add up too, so make a habit of drinking water (perhaps with lemon), tea (unsweetened or half cut), or hot tea or coffee.
5. Healthy cooking: Practice healthy cooking and bring healthy dishes to social events. There are many recipes that can cut the calories by substituting high calorie ingredients such as whole milk, sugar, whole cheese, cream, butter, oils and lard. Introduce more vegetable and fruit dishes to family and social gatherings.
6. Eyes on those calories: It is torture to keep a food journal but at least be aware of high caloric intake meals and curb the next meal so the day’s total consumption will be reasonable. Also if you have a bad day, start the next with a renewed goal to eat healthier and drink plenty of water.
7. Eat before eating: Another hint for pre-holiday preparation is to eat a healthy snack before you go to the family dinner or buffet. Also fill up on water or carbonated water rather than high calorie drinks or alcohol. Drinking water flushes out toxins, hydrates your tissues and helps break down fat.
8. Focus: Focus on other things besides food during the holidays. Some communities have holiday walks for caroling or viewing neighborhood decorations and lights, a game night (with healthy snacks) and a holiday dance. Concentrate on friendly conversation and active fun.
Here in Winnsboro, we have many holiday activities: Santa Rides on the Train at the train museum, the Winnsboro Christmas Parade, Ridgeway Christmas parade, the Pine Tree Player Playhouse performance, Ridgeway Holiday on the Ridge Events and much more. Check out the Chamber of Commerce for more event information and low calorie fun.
Dr. Virginia Schafer has been an active part of Fairfield County since she moved to Winnsboro a few short years ago. Originally she ventured into town to write a book — The Legendary Locals of Fairfield County and fell in love with the county, the people and a special homestead. Even though her background is in health care, her love for writing brought her to the Fairfield County Arts Council where she has orchestrated the Rock Around the Clock student’s writing contest for three years running, and she serves to promote literacy and creative writing to adults and children in the county.