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Dietitians Dish: Make yourself a 'no gain' campaign this holiday season

By By Susan Sizemore
Dec. 10, 2013 at 6:10 a.m.

Susan Sizemore

The holiday season is upon us, and what fun it is to celebrate with family and friends. Celebrating with food is a must, but proceed with caution.

Holiday eating can result in an extra 1- or 2-pound weight gain a year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Consequently, January is filled with the reality of more weight to lose, as we adopt New Year's resolutions for a healthy lifestyle. The holidays don't have to mean weight gain, so why not adopt a "no gain" campaign for December?

Implementing a few tips will result in a healthy holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

Ten tips for healthy holiday dining

Be realistic. Don't try to lose the pounds; instead, maintain your current weight. Weigh several times a week to track your weight.

Make a plan and start the day with a smaller meal that includes protein (egg, peanut butter or ham). Don't skip meals.

When planning to attend a holiday celebration, eat a smaller, lower-calorie meal midday. This will give you better defense to resist overindulging with food at the party.

Don't rush to the food table. Socialize and focus on friends and family before settling in to eat. Socialize away from the food tables.

Plan for exercise. Exercise relieves holiday stress and prevents weight gain. Even 10- to 15-minute brisk walks are helpful.

Scan the food table and make choices that are consistent with mindful eating. Select a smaller plate. A larger plate often results in increased food selections.

Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Eat slowly and savor your food. Resist the urge to go back for more food by waiting at least 20 minutes to allow your brain to register that you are satisfied. If you are not satisfied, eat more vegetables or drink water.

Consider drinking a calorie-free, non-alcoholic drink first before moving to alcohol. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink for women and two drinks for men. Alcohol releases inhibitions and can increase hunger.

Practice healthy holiday cooking. Stephanie Whitley, a registered dietitian, included some great methods to incorporate recipe modifications in last week's article.

When approaching the food bar or table, consider appetizers that include fresh fruit, marinated vegetables, hummus, salsa dip and shrimp cocktail for a lower-calorie celebration.

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year to connect with family and friends, not a time to gorge and eat all you can. Your body will thank you. Remember, you are in control.

Have Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Susan Sizemore is a registered and licensed dietitian at DeTar Healthcare Systems. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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