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Maintaining moderation over the holidays

Alex Stevenson~ 11/19/2014

NORTH VALLEY – Holiday season is just kicking off – as the weather begins to cool down, and extended family comes into town, you may be worried about the customary guilt that comes with indulging this time of year – but sources say hold that thought.

Mary Anne Kelaghan, a registered dietitian at Scottsdale Healthcare’s Shea Campus, believes that moderation any time of year is the key to success – and she’s had twenty years of experience at the facility.

“I believe in moderation – most days an individual should try to eat as healthily as possible, but limiting yourself also has consequences,” she said.

Professor Devina Bajaj, FSC, whose work at Arizona State University centers on the psychology of eating, agrees.

“My strategy has never been to completely give up everything – there are a lot of people who go on diets where they say for example that they’re not going to eat candy, and it’s just not possible – psychologically nobody is going to do that,” Dr. Bajaj said, when asked about the importance of keeping up one’s health regimen over the holidays.

“The important thing is portion control – eat everything, but in smaller portions – the more you tell yourself you cannot have something, the more you’ll crave it,” she continued.

Bajaj is overseeing a study in which college students are tasked with kicking unhealthy habits: “not eating enough fruits and vegetables, drinking enough water, or getting enough exercise – to see if changing these habits slowly can lead to longer term changes.” She said.

Many were worried about sticking to their health plans over the holidays, but Bajaj is hoping to assuage those fears.

“Our coaches are encouraging them to stick to their goals over Thanksgiving, but I’m telling them that it’s also important that subjects eat what they want, but in smaller amounts,” she said.

Bajaj herself is a testament that a little change can go a long way.

“I lost 33 pounds over six months, and I did that with just a few small changes to my diet, and small goals – instead of saying I’m not going to eat any pie over Thanksgiving, I’ll tell myself I’ll just have a small piece of pie – and it really does make a difference,” she said.

Simple and small seems to be the name of the game, but going overboard can be a problem. Kelaghan revealed that she and other staff at Scottsdale Healthcare often see people having issues directly related to poor holiday diets.

“This is especially a problem for diabetics. They’ll over-indulge over the holidays and then come into hospital having complications with their blood sugar levels,” she said.

And while you may think exercise especially would take a back seat to merriment, that’s not the case at the Mountainside Fitness off of Carefree Highway.

“Most of our members stay with us year round, we don’t really have the fluctuations that some gyms have,” Mario Arce, a district manager with the company, said.

If you’re thinking of making good on that upcoming New Year’s resolution by getting more active, Mountainside may be the place.

“We welcome anybody who’s seeking to change themselves in that way, and the first quarter of the year is definitely one of the busiest,” he said.