Enjoy Your Food But Eat Less: Stay on Track During the Holidays

Between holiday parties, gift boxes brimming with cookies and chocolates and meals on the go during shopping trips, it’s easy to pack on extra pounds during the holidays. Here are 10 tips for avoiding unwanted pounds while you celebrate the season.

Make a Plan and Stick With It. Think about when you’ve overeaten during past holiday seasons. Come up with a plan to keep calories in check. Don’t eat something just to please someone else; think of ways to politely refuse food that’s offered to you.

Enjoy Your Favorite Dishes. It’s no fun to deprive yourself of foods you enjoy. If your favorites are high in calories, just sample smaller portions and eat mindfully, savoring every bite.

Stay Active. Don’t circle the parking lot waiting for a space close to the store. Take a walk around the block after your holiday party.  Make activity part of your holiday tradition — play a game of touch football, go sledding or ice skating, put on some music and dance.

Pace Yourself. When you arrive at a party, get a sparkling water with a twist and wait at least 30 minutes before eating. This gives you time to survey the spread and decide what you really want to spend your calories on. Wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds; this is about how long it takes for you to feel full.

Volunteer to Bring a Dish. Make a fresh salad or roast some vegetables to bring to your holiday event. You’ll have something healthy to enjoy and your host will be pleased that you brought a dish to share.

Slim Down Favorite Recipes. If you’re the cook, reduce the calories and fat in holiday favorites. Go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter and whipped cream. Serve salads with dressings on the side and fruit as dessert. Offer water and other low calorie beverages.

Eat Your Regular Meals. Don’t skip meals to save up calories for a holiday dinner. People who arrive at an event hungry tend to eat everything in sight. Have a nourishing breakfast, a light lunch and some fruit or salad shortly before the event.

Limit Alcohol. Having one cocktail or multiple drinks can easily add up to a meal. Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein. Try drinking a glass of seltzer or water between alcoholic beverages.

Engage in Conversation. Enjoy the company of family and friends. You can’t eat and talk at the same time, so the more conversations you have, the less you’ll eat!

Don’t Beat Yourself Up. If you do splurge, get right back to normal eating and exercising the next day, and try to do better at the next party.

By Sue Gonzalez, Master Food Volunteer

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