Health on the mind this holiday

The holidays are a time of excess, but Anne Thorson — the cardiologist and associate director of UC San Francisco’s Center for Prevention of Heart and Vascular Disease —  said they also are a time to consider preventive measures for your health and the health of your loved ones.

What makes the holidays such a crucial time for health? Holidays can really take a toll on our stress levels and diets, even if we’re healthy the rest of the year. The average person gains 5 pounds over the holidays, which is hard on the heart. What’s important to remember any time we’re trying to improve our health is that even the smallest changes can have a big impact.

So how do we keep from gaining weight during the holidays? Despite all of the fad diets out there, the current thinking on weight loss and management is not to deprive yourself of the foods you like, but to have them less often or in smaller portions.

How do I go to a party without eating like a pig? Before a party, eat a high-protein snack, such as nonfat yogurt, and a piece of fruit. Instead of accepting that first glass of wine or Champagne, start with a glass of bubbly water with a squeeze of lime. Many of us drink more alcohol than we want because we start out thirsty and want something in our hand. Replace one of those drinks with water, and you’ve cut 100 or more calories from the evening.

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