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The holiday season can be fun – full of family, friends, food and music. But the holidays can also be stressful, not to mention hard on our wallets, weight and time. Here are some tips to help you manage your holiday sweet tooth and food expense, put a little fitness into your festivities, and reduce the stress that comes with holiday prep.

Making holiday food your friend

Cleveland Clinic offers these great ideas: Try buying some prepared foods instead of cooking everything from scratch. Cook and freeze foods a day or two ahead to save time the day of. Right size your portions to avoid overeating, and don’t over-imbibe on alcoholic beverages. Substitute festive salads and greens for some of the more calorie-laden options. Also, don’t starve yourself so you can eat more at a party, which can lead you to choose even more of the wrong foods.

Fit and festive

Crowded stores, longer lines and abundant sweet temptations around every turn can make holiday grocery shopping nerve-racking. Angelina Stovall-Amos, MS, RDN, LMNT, employee wellness coordinator for the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County, has some simple suggestions for more efficient, less stressful and more budget-friendly holiday shopping:

• Eat before you shop to reduce impulse buys, especially sweets and less healthy options strategically placed at the front of the store.

• Reduce your time in the store by sticking to your list, or even try an APP that allows you and your family to share the grocery list to spend less time trying to guess what everyone wants.

• Buying bulk dry or canned products ahead can better prepare you for any meal. Just remember to choose low-sodium cans or rinse contents to reduce extra sodium or fat.

• Stock up on frozen vegetables or fruit, but avoid packages with sauces and creams already mixed in to reduce added sodium and fat. Also, frozen fruit can be quickly thawed and mixed in with other ingredients to create a delicious holiday salad or pie.

For more great ideas, check out the “Fit and Festive” playlist on LNKTV Health’s YouTube channel (@LNKTVhealth).

The gifts of exercise, time, sleep

With extra demands on your time, it’s helpful to simplify your schedule by discussing which holiday commitments and traditions are most important to you and your family, and choose the most meaningful. Give yourself time to relax and recover from running around.

But equally important - don’t forget about getting plenty of sleep and exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can not only help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis, but also reduce the depression and anxiety that can come with holidays. While 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended, even 10 minutes can make a difference. Take a quick walking break in your building or even in the stairwell during your workday. While shopping, park farther away from the store. Look for some fitness activities for you or your family and invite visiting relatives to join. During a holiday gathering, recruit friends or family for a friendly game of flag football, or try new ideas like kickball, geocaching, ice skating or disc golf. Even a simple 10-minute walk around the neighborhood can lift spirits and help burn off some of that stuffing. For other ideas on active fun, check out LNKTV Health’s “Get Up and Go” YouTube playlist.

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