Avoid The Holiday Blues

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The final week before Christmas can incur an amazing amount of stress. ’Do I have presents for everyone?,’ ‘I’m really looking forward to Jerry’s party, but I’m just so tired.’ ‘I haven’t made cookies yet!’ ‘I really miss my mom … or my dad … or my sister.’ The joy and companionship enjoyed this time of year is a true blessing, but it can come with a price. You can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays and enjoy them more than ever! You may even be able to spread a little more cheer!
 
• Be realistic. Set realistic expectations. We are barraged with ‘things’ we need for the ‘perfect’ holiday everywhere we go. Remember the true meaning of the holiday. Choose a few special traditions to continue and allow new ones into your lives. If you’re separated from loved ones during the holidays, celebrate together with videos and pictures. If you’re technically savvy, try opening your present together via Skype!
 
• Share the Peace on Earth. Set aside differences with family loved ones. Be patient and understanding if others are upset or distressed, or something doesn’t go as planned. The holidays may be even more stressful for those around you.
 
• Budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend before you go shopping and stick to it! If times are difficult, give homemade gifts or baked goods. Donate to a friend or family member’s favorite charity in their name.
 
• Plan. Plan ahead for shopping, baking, and visiting. Make shopping lists for baking to avoid multiple last-minute trips to the store. If there are too many events for your schedule, plan on the important ones and take on the extra activities when you can enjoy them — and be enjoyable company!
 
• Pay attention to your health. Holidays can become a time of over-reaching self-indulgence. Get plenty of sleep and stay active…it will pay off in the long run.
 
• Take some time for yourself. Put aside a little time for rejuvenation … your loved ones will be thankful. Go for a long walk, relax with your favorite music or read that book you bought 2 weeks ago! After spending some time recharging yourself, you find yourself more productive — and lovable — than ever!
 
• Volunteer. Many charitable organizations are also suffering due to the economic downturn. Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter where you and your family can volunteer. Participate in a giving tree or an adopt-a-family program. Helping those who suffering may help you put your own struggles into perspective. Sharing the goodwill of the season is a good way to brighten the day for yourself and others.
 
• Accept your feelings. If you’re away from loved ones, or have recently lost someone close to you, it’s normal to feel sadness and grief, especially during the holidays. Take time to express your feelings. Look for community, religious or other social events.
 
Try a little planning and you’ll be amazed at how a little planning and positive thinking can help you find peace and joy during the holidays.
 
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In For The Count

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Whether you are a calorie counter or not, everyone has checked the the number of calories for a meal or item at some point.
 
A common question is, how many calories should you eat a day? That depends on a variety of factors, including age, size, and lifestyle. The Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference suggests that women between ages of 31-59 should eat between 1,800 and 2,200 calories, depending on their level of activity. Men in the same age group should eat between 2,200 and 2,800. Calorie usage varies between individuals and are only one factor in a healthy nutritional regimen. That said, it is important to understand what calories are.
 
A calorie is often described as a measure of heat. It is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water from 15° to 16° Celsius and is provided by fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Counting calories is a method to help balance the calories you consume with the calories you burn throughout the day. What you eat as the source of your calories is vitally important.
 
Counting calories can be difficult. We have busy lives and are eating out more than ever! Fast food and prepared dishes don’t help either. Twenty years ago, the average cheeseburger in the United States had 333 calories now it’s over 600 calories! A small order of french fries from a popular fast food restaurant has 230 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein and that’s not counting the 15 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates with every ketchup packet you use with those fries! Fats have the highest concentration of calories with nine calories per gram of pure fat. Pure protein and carbohydrates each have four calories per gram.
 
The best option is to eat fruits, vegetables, and other lower-fat foods. The simple fact is that you get more food for less calories! A cup of raw broccoli gives you 31 calories, but fill that cup with ice cream and you’re at 250. Additionally, you get all the great nutrients found in healthy, low-fat food, along with the fiber that will keep you feeling full longer!
 
If you eat the right kind of calories, you don’t need to count them. Nearly one-quarter of Americans’ calories come from sweets, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages (Did I mention there’s 7 calories per gram of pure alcohol?). Five percent comes from fruit-flavored drinks and salty snacks like potato chips, while fruits and vegetables make up a paltry 10% of the average American’s daily calorie intake. In other words, we’re not eating the nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as much as the empty, damaging things like candy, soft drinks and white bread that have been proven to contribute to many serious problems.
 
Count calories as a gauge to help balance your diet with your needs, but be sure those calories count when it comes to your health!
 
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