Morning Sun
  • EXTENSION CONNECTION: ‘Plan’ to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

  • Eating healthy during the holidays does not mean giving up your favorite foods or avoiding parties. With a little planning, you can enjoy the season and the food while avoiding  those extra pounds often associated with the holiday eating.

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  • Eating healthy during the holidays does not mean giving up your favorite foods or avoiding parties. With a little planning, you can enjoy the season and the food while avoiding those extra pounds often associated with the holiday eating.
    Here are a few suggestions:
    • Make a plan — Think about where you will be, who you will be with, what foods will be available, and what foods are really special to you. Consider the foods you really want to eat versus those you could probably do without. Think about your personal triggers to overeat and how to minimize them. Next, make a plan of action. It’s much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you’ve already planned for it.
    • Choose well. Keep balance in your diet by following the MyPlate guidelines found at
    www.ChooseMyPlate.gov . Take larger portions of healthier options such as the turkey, fresh fruit and vegetables. Choose smaller portions of the more calorie dense foods like mashed potatoes with gravy. When it comes to dessert, take a half piece or just a few bites.
    • Avoid recreational eating. At parties and holiday dinners, we tend to eat beyond our body’s physical hunger simply because food is there and eating is a “social thing.” To avoid recreational eating, consciously make one plate of the foods you really want. Eat it slowly, enjoying and savoring every tasty bite. Then, when you’re done, pop a mint or stick of gum in your mouth, get a tall glass of water to sip on and position yourself away from the food.
    • Drink water. Beverage calories can add up quickly. A few glasses of sweet wine, apple cider, egg nog, fruit juices, pop or hot cocoa can easily add a few hundred calories to your meal. Everything in moderation. If holiday beverages are your favorite, try just a small serving. Water fills you up and has healthy benefits as well.
    • Don’t skip meals to “save” up for later. Eat a light snack of yogurt or fruit and drink water before going to a party. This will help keep your hunger in check
    • Make healthy food and bring it along with you to the holiday meal. By doing this you will be sure to have something healthy to eat. A fresh fruit salad is always a healthy and appetizing dish to bring to a celebration. You can also bring a big salad tossed with a variety of veggies. Don’t forget the low-fat dressing. Simply prepared vegetables such as steamed carrots or green beans, or a vegetable tray are also healthy side dish options.
    • Halve it and you can have it! When faced with an assortment of yummy dips, gooey sweets, or irresistible fried treats, think, “Halve it and you can have it.” This strategy really works and will keep you from feeling deprived while cutting in half the calories you would normally eat.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Survey a buffet table before you get your plate . Make only ONE trip, pick out favorite foods and skip the rest. Include fresh vegetables and fruits. Serve yourself small portions and move away from the table to eat and mingle.
    • Take your time. Slow down, savor your food, and enjoy your family and friends. Give yourself a chance to feel full and satisfied. Wait 20 minutes before getting another plate of food from the buffet. You’ll often find that you’re no longer hungry.
    • Get Moving. . . include exercise before you go. Let’s face it, parties generally mean a few more calories than you usually eat. Over-indulge on a day you don’t exercise and your fat cells just keep on growing! To prevent this from happening, be sure to include exercise in your day. An extra benefit…being physically active most days will help
    reduce the stress of the holidays, help regulate your appetite and burn off some extra calories. Find ways for your family and friends to be active at your holiday gathering. Make those activities new holiday traditions.
    • Stay positive. Even if you did overdo it at the party, keep things in perspective. You do not need to be “perfect” all the time, and one event does not make you an overweight person or give you high cholesterol. Say, “It’s no big deal,” and start your next day back on your healthy fitness regime.
    So, make a healthy eating plan and work on maintaining your current weight . Don’t even expect to lose weight during the holidays. Take the focus off of food. Relax and enjoy family and friends, and choose some of these tips to help you the holidays, including wonderful foods, while avoiding those unwanted, extra pounds.
    If you would like more tips for healthier eating at holiday parties and family get-togethers, you may contact the Wildcat Extension District, Crawford County, 620-724-8233; Labette County, 620-784-5337; Montgomery County, 620-331-2690; Pittsburg Office, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP), 620-232-1930.

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