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Posted December 5, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Holiday eating - enjoying the season while managing your waistline

Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, people attend numerous parties and holiday dinners. Food is part of the holiday traditions. One big challenge for most of us is enjoying holiday foods without gaining too many pounds. With some planning, this challenge can be met with success!

First, it is important to set realistic goals. One goal that may work for you is to maintain your weight within a 1-2 pound range during the holiday season.

Consider the following tips to help you manage your weight while enjoying holiday parties:
1. Bank your calories. How many extra calories per week will result in an extra pound of fat? 3500 calories! If you know a dinner party is coming up at the end of the week, cut back a little on your food intake each day to save calories for the party.

2. Keep to a healthy eating pattern during the weeks in between holiday meals and parties. Use My Plate as a guide, filling half your plate with fruit and vegetables, ¼ of the plate with whole grains, and ¼ with lean protein foods.

3. Schedule at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. This can easily be accomplished with two 15-minute walks. Exercise will also help you manage holiday stress.

4. Before going to a party, eat a small healthy snack and drink a glass of water to help reduce your appetite.

5. Think about how you would like to use your party calorie allowance. There are many options such as filling your plate mostly with vegetables and selecting small servings of the foods high in fat and sugar to satisfy your hunger for these foods.

6. Watch your beverage calories. Stay away from drinks high in sugar and fat. Consider limiting your alcohol calories.

7. Stay away from foods that result in "mindless eating" such as chips and dip or peanuts. Don't waste your calories on these foods!

8. If you are invited to bring a dish, prepare a favorite recipe that is delightfully low in calories. These days most people are looking for low calorie alternatives at parties.

9. Maintain a food and exercise diary just for the holiday season. This may help you keep track of your calories and meet your exercise goals.

Enjoy the holidays while giving yourself the gift of good health!

Happy holidays from Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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