The holidays are a beautiful, blessed, glorious time filled with delicious food, family gatherings, thoughtful shopping — and stress.

Sometimes, when we’re stressed out, we turn to food. The holidays offer an abundance of rich and sweet foods from which to delve into that seem to be everywhere.

Clinical dietician Brooke Steigauf with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics suggests people try very hard to stick to a regular meal pattern. Eating at regular meal times will help prevent overindulging at the next meal.

“Do not ‘save up’ for one large meal as your body may be overly hungry and it is then difficult to portion control,” she said.

Also, savor food. Steigauf said she became a registered dietician because she loves food. By enjoying every bite, that will help stressed out people to not overeat.

“It (food) uses all of our senses. We see food’s beautiful colors, hear it crunch or sizzle, feel the texture in hands and mouths, smell its aroma and most importantly, taste the multitude of flavors. Take time when you are eating by chewing slowly and put forks or spoons down between bites. Think about engaging all of your senses during the meal. Also, think if you really want the food,” she said.

Be sure to stay hydrated, which will help stave off any holiday illnesses and help the stomach feel full.

“If you are still hungry later, respect that hunger by eating, but try to eat balanced by including all food groups. Following MyPlate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, make half your plate non-starchy vegetables and fruits, one quarter grains and one quarter lean protein with a serving of dairy on the side.

“Finally, remember that many of these food items are available all year round — if you choose to make them. You do not need to eat them all in one day,” Steigauf said.

Another way to reduce holiday stress is to engage in activities that keep you healthy and refreshed both mentally and physically.

“Staying active through the season by cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking or indoor activities such as hot yoga or swimming will utilize those extra calories you may be consuming and are a great way to manage stress and stay healthy. Watching a holiday movie, playing a board game with your family or reading a new book can be a great way to relax at the end of the day,” Steigauf said.

Remember to prioritize, organize, simplify and enjoy the upcoming holidays. Breathe deeply, take time for yourself and don’t forget the reason for the season.

Danley-Greiner is a freelance writer from Runnells.

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