With the holiday season fast approaching, many people who have worked hard all year to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising fi nd their good habits go out the window and end up gaining five to seven unwanted pounds. While it can be challenging at times to stick to a healthy eating plan during the holiday season, it is not impossible. Guilford County Public Health would like to remind you of ways to help stay close to your current weight.

      First, realize that perfection is not only unrealistic, it can be damaging to maintaining a positive outlook. Think realistically and write down how you are going to manage your holiday season. Managing means scheduling your workouts as you would any other appointment, along with your party engagements and your daily menus. By writing down your goals, you hold yourself accountable. Having something in black and white in front of you alleviates vague misgivings that are formulated in your head and are much easier to “blow off.”  

      Day to day, keep track of your workouts and record what you eat in a food journal. Remember that even when there is a lot going on and you feel challenged for time, a good workout will help relieve stress and give you more energy to complete your upcoming tasks. 

     Around the holidays, we Americans generally take eating and food to the extreme. A lesson in moderation is prudent, especially at this time of year. Don’t deny yourself the desserts and all the other delicious holiday items. Just remember to eat slowly and try to fi ll up on salads with low fat dressing, as well as fruits and vegetables. If you have questions about healthy food options, visit

 A lot of holiday recipes can be easily modified without affecting their taste or texture. Simply follow the guidelines listed below.

Reduce an Ingredient

Fats and sugars can be reduced by one-quarter to one-third of the amount called for in recipes except when sugar is used as a preservative (jams, jellies).

Eliminate an Ingredient

To cut calories, eliminate fat in recipes when it is present for taste and not for structure. For example, gravy can be made from broth and fl our; meats can be browned in their own juices rather than in added fat.

Change Preparation Method

Instead of frying foods, bake, broil, stir-fry, steam, simmer or sauté in broth or juice. Use non-stick cookware and vegetable oil spray instead of added fat.

Substitute Healthier Ingredients (lower fat, lower sugar, lower salt)

 There are many healthier ingredients that can be used when cooking. You can fi nd some heart healthy substitutions by visiting HealthyEating/HealthyCooking/Smart-Substitutions.  

Above all, cherish yourself and your loved ones. The holidays can be a source of great joy and contentment. The Public Health Division of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services wishes you and your family a healthy and safe holiday season. For more information, visit

This is a monthly column written by employees of the Guilford County Department of Public Health. If you have suggestions for future articles, please call 336-641-3292.