Christmas is a time we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior. Romans 6:23 tells us “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s gift of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift of all!  One way we celebrate and rejoice with family and friends is by giving gifts.  A wonderful gift for others and yourself is the gift of promoting good health. We all enjoy days more when we feel our best and have plenty of energy.

Here are some ideas for healthful living during the holiday season:

• Practice strategies to discourage overeating at parties and special events. Eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. It is a mistake to skip a meal or eat too little during the day prior to attending a party. This can lead to feeling famished and result in overeating. Enjoy a small snack before arriving. A half sandwich, piece of fruit or cup of soup will curb the appetite. Once at the party, look at all the foods on the buffet before serving your plate.

Choose small amounts of several foods you would especially enjoy.  After making selections move away from the buffet. Eat slowly, savor the food and focus on people, music and festivities instead of the food.  Offer to bring a healthful snack to share like roasted red pepper hummus with vegetable crudités, low fat finger sandwiches on whole grain bread, or a fruit tray with vanilla yogurt for a dip. Choose beverages like sparkling water with a citrus twist, tomato juice, coffee or tea instead of high calorie beverages like eggnog, fruit punch and soda.

• Be selective in planning your schedule. Focus on the heart of Christmas and choose activities most important to your family. Avoid over committing. You don’t need to accept every invitation. Pray the Lord will guide you as you plan your days.

• Maintain a healthful activity level. It is energizing and aids in stress management. Many people gain weight during the holidays and physical activity burns excess calories that lead to weight gain. Plan time for a walk, workout at the fitness center, exercise class or other favorite physical activity.

• Modify traditional recipes to make them healthier. Many recipes are still delicious with less fat, sugar and sodium.

• Get the amount of restful and regular sleep your body needs. Insufficient sleep drains the energy level, and can trigger overeating.

• Give gifts that promote good health. Perhaps the recipient would enjoy a fitness club membership, fitness DVD, pedometer to measure the distance one walks or a gift certificate at an athletic store. A basket filled with healthful snacks, a Christian devotion book with a collection of herbal teas, a healthful cookbook or a variety of herbs and spices with a seasoning guide are ideas.

• Keep a healthful perspective.  One day of overeating does not sabotage all of your efforts. If you over indulge at a party, just return to healthier eating, and move forward with good health habits.