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Enjoy a healthier holiday season

Cheesy cauliflower bake (Courtesy photo by Philip Carter)

Cheesy cauliflower bake (Courtesy photo by Philip Carter)

Low carbohydrate brownies made with almond flour (Courtesy photo by Philip Carter)

Low carbohydrate brownies made with almond flour (Courtesy photo by Philip Carter)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As warfighters it is important to strive for a healthy lifestyle. For some Airmen and their families, it may be more of a struggle to stay at a healthy weight or to manage medical conditions that involve dietary restrictions.

During the holiday season as people gather together to break bread, there are ways to make favorite family recipes healthier so everyone can partake in the festivities.

Many people don’t have enough restraint when it comes to the foods they eat during the holidays, which come one after another at the end of the year.

“For a lot of us, we only get this once a year,” said Dana Johnson, health promotion educator for the 21st Medical Group Health and Wellness Center. “So I’m going to eat as much as I can, as long as I can, until pretty much everything is gone.”

After celebrating Thanksgiving and the holidays by eating all these comfort foods, people often create unhealthy eating habits for weeks or even months. These bad habits can be hard to break, which is a good reason to strive to eat healthy throughout the holidays.

One of the starting points to break these habits are the leftovers. It’s just too easy to overindulge when there’s so much food after the guests have gone home. Johnson said to instead divide up the leftovers and send them home with guests, or freeze them to eat at a later date. This way they don’t get eaten up all at once, which can add extra calories and lead to unwanted weight.

There are some health conditions which force people to eat healthy on a daily basis, including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and diabetes-types 1 and 2.

These conditions demand different ways of cooking. For example, people with celiac or Crohn’s disease, it’s best to stay away from foods with gluten in them. If a guest has diabetes, recipes should be prepared with less sugar, lower starches and more complex carbohydrates.

The best advice for everyone is to have a plan before going into the holiday season. Talk to family and friends to let them know of any dietary needs. Another option is to bring healthier meals or dishes that fit the needs of people with specific food restrictions.

Take it one step further by planning an activity with the guests, other than just sitting down in front of the television, said Johnson. Go for a walk, or to the park and play games such as football, soccer or even start a new family tradition that involves the outdoors. These are the things that can keep people healthy through the holiday season and beyond.

Here are some links that may help with starting new and healthier traditions:

https://www.nutrition.gov/shopping-cooking-meal-planning/recipes

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/recipes.html

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/recipes-cookbooks-and-menus

https://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/eat/recipes.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/holiday-recipes/art-20045253

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