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Make holidays healthy
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Q. I am trying to manage my cholesterol levels and weight, and my husband recently learned he has diabetes. How can we enjoy the holiday festivities (and face all that calorie-laden food) without compromising our health goals?

A. You can still accept these invitations and even enjoy the holiday fare, but now is the time to take a new approach to your holiday celebrations.

When we think of these get-togethers, many people regard it as an opportunity to overload on a variety of delicious food. Holiday gatherings are of particular concern to people with special health concerns, because the menu is filled with carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugary desserts. People with type 2 diabetes have to be especially careful, since they are often on medications that can't be adjusted to various amounts of food intakes.

The key is to focus on quantity and your personal preferences, rather than dwelling on deprivation or bad vs. good foods. This way, you can still enjoy your favorite holiday dishes while maintaining your health goals.

Here are some specific ways to keep your eating habits under control while enjoying the festivities:

• Cut portions. Hosts often have a different idea of what makes a serving size. If there are several favorite dishes you want to savor, take a half or quarter-size of the portion or offer to share a dessert serving with someone.

• Eat slowly with small bites. Ever look down at your plate only to be shocked that it's empty? As you enjoy your favorite holiday flavors, give yourself time to truly enjoy the dining experience. This will also give your stomach more time to let your brain know you're full.

• Drink calorie-free beverages. Water is always a good choice; however, if you are craving more than water, you may find yourself filling up on calories through your drink choice. Try to save those calories for the food. If you don't think your host will provide a low-calorie drink option, go ahead and bring your own.

• Avoid taking something from every dish. When going through a buffet line, have you ever automatically filled your plate with a serving from every available option? Instead, decide what foods you truly want before you get in line, and skip the rest.

• Check the menu ahead of time. Feel free to contact your host to see what is in store, so you can plan around your food options. If there aren't any options that accommodate your preferences, offer to bring one of your favorite healthy dishes. In the end, you may not be the only one at the party looking for a healthier option.

• Have a healthy snack beforehand. If you satisfy your hunger with a healthy snack, you'll be less plagued by the temptation to gorge at the meal.

- As a family nurse practitioner, Steve Mischka provides comprehensive health care to all members of the family. Mischka provides a variety of services, including adult and well child care, and lipid management. He is also a Certified Diabetes Educator. To make an appointment with Mischka, please call Monroe Clinic-Brodhead at

(608) 897-2191.