Avoid overeating during the holidays

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By Jessica Spalding Bickett


Did you know an extra 100 calories per day can cause you to gain 10 pounds per year? That may not sound like much, but an extra 5 or 10 pounds every year for the next several years can add up to be a lot of extra weight. The holiday season is filled with family gatherings, parties and dinners that tempt us with all sorts of delicious dishes and treats. With a little planning and a little effort, you can avoid overindulging and feel your best this season. Remember these tips:
* Have a plan. You don’t have to try everything. Save those calories for the things you really want.  
* Practice making holiday recipes healthier. Prepare your favorite dishes using low-fat, no added sugar or lower sodium substitutes. Many recipes can be modified to cut calories and still taste wonderful!  
* Don’t skip meals. If you know that you are going to a party don’t try to save all of your calories so that you can pig out later. Skipping meals is not good for your metabolism and usually leads to overeating.  
* Fill up on fiber. Snack on some fiber - filled fruits and vegetables before you go. Fiber helps us to feel full. Low calorie vegetables, a piece of fresh fruit or a small bowl of oatmeal are some suggestions.  
* Don’t linger around the food. If possible, try to stay in a room or area away from the food. If you are constantly looking at tables of goodies, you will eat them.  
* Use a small plate. You can’t put as much food on a smaller plate. Also, use tall, skinny glasses instead of wider glasses. It is a proven fact that people drink less out of taller, skinnier glasses and more out of shorter, wide glasses.  
* Take a break. Don’t constantly nibble. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to get the message that your body is getting food. Eat slowly.
* Treat yourself. Remember, you can have that piece of pie or cake, but not a sample of every single one. As always moderation is the key.
* Watch your beverages. Alcoholic beverages have a lot of empty calorie that contribute to extra holiday pounds. Watch out for the eggnog, too. An 8 ounce serving has around 345 calories.  
* Try to stay active. People are generally less active in the winter months.  Take a walk outside after dinner or try a walking, dance, or aerobics video. You could also get a jump start on the New Year by joining a gym or fitness club.   Exercise is also a great remedy for holiday stress and/or depression.  
The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy and celebrate family... and food!  Following these tips can help you to feel great and energetic throughout the season.  
Editors note: Jessica Spalding Bickett, MBA, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with Lincoln Trail District Health Department. Nutrition counseling is available for children and adults by appointment at the Marion County Health Center. For further information, call (270) 692-3393.