STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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Genetically modified foods bring some controversy to today’s consumer. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as plants, animals or microorganisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination. When a gene from one organism is purposely moved to improve or change another organism in a laboratory, the result is a GMO. This is also sometimes called “transgenic” for transfer of genes. There are different ways of moving genes to produce desirable traits. Foods produced from or using GMOs are often referred to as genetically modified (GM) foods.


If you’ve eaten anything today, chances are you had GMOs. GM foods are made from soy, corn or other crops grown from seeds with genetically engineered DNA. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, GM seeds are used to plant more than 90 percent of the corn, soybeans, and cotton grown in the United States. Unless you consciously avoid them, GM foods likely find their way into many of your snacks and meals.


Nine genetically modified crops are available today, including corn (both sweet and field), soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potatoes and squash. GM apples have been approved and will be commercially available this fall. The National Center for Food and

ARE YOU EATING GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD?

Agricultural Policy estimates 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically modified.


Some clinical researchers believe genetically modified foods are safe, healthy and sustainable, while others claim the opposite. GMOs are engineered to give food more color, increase their shelf life or eliminate seeds. That’s why we can buy seedless watermelons and grapes. Some GM foods also have been engineered to have higher levels of specific nutrients, such as protein, calcium or folate. Proponents of GM foods contend genetic engineering can help us find sustainable ways to feed people in third world countries. Specifically, in countries that lack access to nutrient-rich foods, using GM crops provides nutrient-enriched food for their population.


Learn more about GM foods through information provided by the World Health Organization on its Website, www.who.int. You’ll get an overview of many of the main issues and concerns about consuming these foods for human health. The Web site also lists risks and benefits and discusses how such foods are regulated nationally and internationally.  

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller