Q: How can I enjoy the holidays but still eat right and not feel exhausted?

A: ‘Tis the season for family, fun and food, food, FOOD! Let’s face it: The holidays are filled with parties and events that are hard to turn down. But participating in everything can wear you down and lead to over-eating (and not the healthy stuff). Over the years, I have tried to stick with these few helpful tips for maintaining balance during the holidays.

Routine and consistency:

For me, maintaining consistency in my routine and diet during the holidays is crucial. Most of us usually eat our meals around a certain time each day. If a party is held later than I usually eat, I grab a healthy-ish snack before going. This keeps me from overindulging and eating every delicious hors de oeuvre in sight.

Buffets and balance:

Navigating the holiday buffet line is an exercise in temptation. The spread of food makes it hard not to dive right in! Here’s my strategy: I start by grabbing one of the smaller plates, filling it up initially with fruits and vegetables. Once my plate is full, I step away from the buffet line– and do some mingling. I let some time elapse before I go back for more. Why? It takes 20-30 minutes from the time we start eating for the brain to put on the brakes and send signals of fullness.

Keep moving:

Sometimes the wonderful food and occasional spirits leave me feeling lethargic and bloated. Sound familiar? When possible, I try to get my husband or a friend to take a walk with me after eating. Other ways to increase physical activity during the holiday season (or anytime) include taking the stairs instead of an elevator, choosing a distant parking spot instead of a close one, or walking the long way to wherever you need to go. The benefits of physical activity are cumulative. And every little bit helps combat holiday calories.

Get your zzzzz’s:

Late nights and changing schedules can take their toll. Lack of sleep can affect our bodies in many ways, including slowing our metabolism and causing blood sugar levels to drop. When this happens, we may make less healthy food choices, giving in to cravings for sugar and fat. Get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep; try to go to sleep around the same time each night and wake up around the same time each morning.

You don’t have to be a Scrooge when it comes to having holiday fun! Just don’t forget to take care of yourself.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.