Good Nutrition, Good Health and Good Cheer

Dec 18, 2018

For those living with chronic or rare conditions, staying focused on good nutrition during the holidays can prevent serious health risks. Chessica Stephney, clinical dietitian at Accredo’s Rare Disease Therapeutic Resource Centers, offers these tips.

Jennifer Article

Holidays are a time for fun, celebrations with family and friends…and food. With so many tempting holiday foods, including special recipes that are part of long-time family traditions, it can be challenging for those on a restrictive meal plan. Yet, adherence to certain dietary guidelines is critical to some chronic conditions, like diabetes and hypertension, as well as to rare conditions, including homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, which requires a very low fat diet.

Luckily, with proper planning and smart strategies, fun and good food can be enjoyed with family and friends.

Here are some tips for remaining adherent to nutrition and therapy plans:

  1. Do monitor food portions, but don’t skip meals. Skipping lunch to save calories for a holiday party in the evening will make it harder to manage blood sugar levels and increase hunger level, causing you to overeat later. Instead, eat a healthy lunch, then at the party, try using a smaller sized plate. Eat vegetables and fruit first. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite.
  2. We all have those family favorite recipes, passed on generation-to-generation and made only during the holidays. Look for ways to modify those recipes to lower fat and sodium intake. More healthy recommendations include:
    • Bake, broil, grill, and steam foods
    • Trim visible fat and remove the skin on meats
    • Use cooking oils and sprays instead of butter
    • Use herbs and spices instead of salt seasoning
    • Make low-fat dips served with fresh vegetables
  3. Have fun with a mocktail. Try sparkling or seltzer water with a squeeze of lemon or lime and a splash of juice. Garnish with a wedge of orange, a few berries or a pineapple chunk. Avoiding alcohol can limit drug interactions, while decreasing calories, carbohydrates, and sugar intake.
  4. Holidays can get pretty hectic and in the rush, it’s easy to get out of a typical routine. When that happens, it’s important to take extra steps so you don’t forget to take your medications. Keep in mind how important it is to maintain good health and set an alarm or write down reminder notes and keep them in places where you’re sure to see them.
  5. This time of year it can be difficult to fit in exercise, but it’s important to remember that the time you miss out on physical activity can quickly add up to days, then weeks. Exercise helps decrease stress, control blood sugar levels and helps decrease or maintain weight. There are plenty of ways to stay active during a busy schedule. Try taking a walk with family or friends after meals. And, keep in mind you don’t have to fit in a full workout at one time. Exercise is effective in small intervals as well as longer periods of time. If you can’t fit in a 30-minute walk, take three ten minute walks.

The better you take care of your health this holiday season, the better you’ll be able to enjoy this special time of year. I wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday.

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