Mayo Clinic expert: 4 actions for a healthy holiday season

It’s that time of year when whole grains, lean proteins and green juices get dumped for a steady diet of cookies, cocktails and cheese platters. But it doesn't have to mean disaster for your diet. (Thinkstock)
It’s the time of year when whole grains, lean proteins and green juices get dumped for a steady diet of cookies, cocktails and cheese platters. But just because there’s figgy pudding aplenty, doesn’t mean you’re destined to pack on the pounds. Dr. Donald Hensrud, a specialist in preventive and internal medicine at Mayo Clinic and medical director of The Mayo Clinic Healthy Living program, says you can enjoy the holidays without falling off the wellness wagon. “Everybody’s going to relax a little bit and indulge, but it doesn’t have to derail efforts completely to manage weight,” he said. Scroll through the gallery for his best health tips for surviving the holidays. (Thinkstock)  (Getty Images/iStockphoto/SkylarShankman)
This Feb. 23, 2015 photo shows roasted salmon and beets with herb vinaigrette in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Plan and portion Don’t just wing it and graze on every hors d’oeuvre in sight. Hensrud says you should approach the holidays with a plan — even if it’s just an outline. If you’re cooking, swap out the carb-heavy dishes for a pan of roasted vegetables. Replace starchy mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower or mashed turnips, and consider replacing your holiday roast with fish. “If people are going away from a traditional meal, they can include a Dijon and Parmesan-crusted salmon or even quinoa cakes for a little variety,” Hensrud said. If you’re a guest at someone else’s dinner, enjoy the food that’s served, but don’t overdo it with seconds and thirds. Keep to the recommended portion sizes. And remember, that one meal you eat on Christmas or New Year’s Day isn’t going to completely shatter your scale. There are lots of lunches, dinners and appetizers consumed throughout the holiday season. “It’s also important to include fruits, vegetables, salads, healthier low-calorie foods, in meals other than the holiday meal to try to stay on track,” Hensrud said. (AP Photo)  (AP/Matthew Mead)
Multi Generation Family On Countryside Walk With Dog
Incorporate activity into your day Don’t worry: Hensrud isn’t going to tell you that you need to schedule time on the treadmill during the holidays. And you don’t need to start training for a marathon either. “Just staying active throughout the day going for a walk and trying to get some activity every day to help burn off some of those extra calories that we’re consuming that can be effective as well,” he said. (Thinkstock)  (Getty Images/iStockphoto/monkeybusinessimages)
It’s that time of year when whole grains, lean proteins and green juices get dumped for a steady diet of cookies, cocktails and cheese platters. But it doesn't have to mean disaster for your diet. (Thinkstock)
Don’t get discouraged If you went crazy on the cream cheese dip or ate your weight in cookies, don’t get discouraged and continue to overdo it because “the damage is done.” Just restart your healthy habits the next day. “People may indulge, they feel guilty and then that makes it even worse. One of the most important things is being kind to ourselves, and I see this a lot that people tend to be their own worst enemy and beat themselves up because it’s very challenging managing weight,” Hensrud said. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/nedjelly)
This September 28, 2015 photo shows veggie oven hash in Concord, NH. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)This This Sept. 28, 2015, photo shows veggie oven hash in Concord, N.H. This recipe relies on a mix of roasted vegetables for a caramelized sweetness that feels roasty and homey. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Change your attitude Don’t let “diet” be a bad word in your vocabulary. Hensrud, who is the author of the second edition of “The Mayo Clinic Diet,” says reaching a healthy weight starts with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. “Weight management doesn’t have to be drudgery; it can be an enjoyable experience,” he said. “The attitude that people start with is incredibly important. If they approach this in a positive manner  ‘I’m going to be more active, I may lose some weight, I’ll feel better’  that can make all the difference in the world.” (AP Photo)  (AP/Matthew Mead)
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It’s that time of year when whole grains, lean proteins and green juices get dumped for a steady diet of cookies, cocktails and cheese platters. But it doesn't have to mean disaster for your diet. (Thinkstock)
This Feb. 23, 2015 photo shows roasted salmon and beets with herb vinaigrette in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Multi Generation Family On Countryside Walk With Dog
It’s that time of year when whole grains, lean proteins and green juices get dumped for a steady diet of cookies, cocktails and cheese platters. But it doesn't have to mean disaster for your diet. (Thinkstock)
This September 28, 2015 photo shows veggie oven hash in Concord, NH. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)This This Sept. 28, 2015, photo shows veggie oven hash in Concord, N.H. This recipe relies on a mix of roasted vegetables for a caramelized sweetness that feels roasty and homey. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

WASHINGTON — Just because there’s figgy pudding aplenty, that doesn’t mean you’re destined to pack on the pounds.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, a specialist in preventive and internal medicine at Mayo Clinic and medical director of The Mayo Clinic Healthy Living program, says you can enjoy the holidays without falling off the wellness wagon. Here are his best tips. 

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