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WebMD Live Events Transcript; Event Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2004

If you think eating healthy means giving up your favorite holiday foods, think again. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, who has lightened thousands of recipes over the years in her syndicated column, "The Recipe Doctor," and is "The Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic, joined us on Dec. 15 to help make your holiday feasting healthy and happy.

If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR: Welcome back to WebMD Live, Elaine. Thanks for joining us today. What are some of your family's food traditions during the holiday season?

MAGEE: One of our favorite food traditions is we definitely make gingerbread people and decorate them and give them to neighbors and friends. We also invent a new fudge recipe every year. Last year was German chocolate cake fudge in honor of my husband, who adores German chocolate cake. On Christmas Eve my girls and I make cinnamon rolls, homemade with the bread machine helping with the dough, and then it rises in the refrigerator during the night and Christmas morning we just pop them in the oven while we're getting ready to open presents.

MODERATOR: How do you keep the traditions and yet eat in a healthy way?

MAGEE: Because I am who I am, I never made regular cinnamon rolls or regular gingerbread people. I always made light versions of those foods, so that's what my family is used to. I just literally tested a cheese ball recipe so I could share it with this chat, and of course the whole time I'm making substitutions, so that it's a light cheese ball.

I think one of the keys to staying on track with your health during the holidays is to stick with your exercise plan as much as possible. Make it a priority. And go a little bit more out of your way to eat mostly healthy meals and snacks during this time. That way some of these extras that we enjoy won't make that big of a dent. I have to remind myself, the irony is this is the busiest time of year and yet it is the most crucial time to keep up with your exercise program for two reasons. One is we tend to get a few more calories per day this time of year, and the exercise helps neutralize those effects. The second reason is many people are very stressed at this time of year and one of our best stress reducers is exercise. And getting enough sleep. I found I sleep better when I'm staying on track with my exercise.

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