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Holiday Eating Tips

It's the holiday season again, and for many seeking weight loss this time of year is infamous for rich foods, feasts abound and plenty of weight gain. Contrary to popular belief, most Americans typically gain five to ten pounds during the entire holiday season each year. This is due mainly to a decreased focus on exercise and a significant increase in calorie intake from those characteristically energy-dense traditional foods. Temptation will be there at every holiday meal, but if you make a conscious effort to eat smartly you can minimize your weight gain or not gain any weight at all. Here are some important tips you can use to help you eat smartly: General Tips:

• Maintain your regular exercise routine. Exercise is an excellent stress management tool and may help curb emotional eating during the holidays.
• Keep a diet journal (either paper or online) to help you avoid mindless eating and keep track of what you put into your mouth day to day.
• Avoid skipping meals as a "diet" strategy. Skipping meals may cause you to overeat and slows down metabolism.
• Keep hydrated by drinking water (or non-caloric beverages) throughout the day. This will help you differentiate between hunger and thirst to moderate what you eat.

Eating at Parties/Social Gatherings:
• Start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going for the entrees and desserts. Be careful not to stock pile the plate.
• Use smaller plates. This is a good mechanism for portion control, as the less you have on your plate, the less you eat.
• Sit or stand as far away from the buffet table as you can. This is to avoid temptation of going back for more.
• Moderation is the best policy, but if you must splurge, choose your splurges wisely. If you've been craving your favorite treat, be sure to cut calories elsewhere or add some extra physical activity to help your stay on track.

After the party:
• After a big meal, keep moving by dancing or taking a walk with family and friends.
• Avoid keeping leftovers at home; create small to-go packs for your guests.
• If you must take leftovers home, take a small amount and take only the food items you've enjoyed.

Holiday season is here. While there is much joy and warmth to be shared with friends and family, take care that the holiday festivities don't end up on your waistline. It is possible to make it through the holiday and keep your weight loss/ maintenance goals. It's easier than you think.

Catalina Vlad, MS, RD, LD

References

Giancoli, AN. 2009. Tis the Season for Overeating Handout. RD 411. Available at:
rd411.com. Accessed on November 16, 2010.
Gormick-Ilagan, S. 2009. Holiday Eating Survival Tips PowerPoint. RD 411. Available
at: rd411.com. Accessed on November 16, 2010.