The holiday season brings eating and drinking temptations galore, and many people gain a pound or two – but usually not any more.
“The problem is that any weight gained during the holiday season tends not to come off the rest of the year, unless the person makes a commitment to weight loss,” said Beth Reames, retired nutritionist with the LSU AgCenter.
The best advice is not to add any weight during the holiday season at all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your holiday favorites.
Reames offers these tips to help you enjoy in moderation:
–Don’t try to lose weight over the holidays; strive to maintain your weight.
–Be selective. Think about what foods you really want to eat, which ones you will just sample and which ones you will skip.
–Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show that skipping breakfast often leads to overeating later. Eat a light nutritious snack such as soup, fruit or cereal before going to a party to help curb hunger and make better choices.
–Watch portion sizes. Three ounces lean meat, chicken or fish measure up to a deck of cards or a checkbook. A teaspoon of margarine is the size of the tip of your thumb to the first joint. One-half cup mashed potatoes is half a tennis ball.
–Use a smaller plate to encourage proper portion sizes.
–Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These offer a way to cut back on calories and help you feel full and satisfied.
–To avoid nibbling on food without thinking about it, move away from the food table after filling your plate.
–Do not deprive yourself of your favorites. Make it a balancing act. Cut the salad dressing and go for a small slice of chocolate mousse pie. Or balance your favorites with low-calorie foods, such as vegetables with a small amount of dip or boiled shrimp with lemon.
–Eat slowly and savor each delicious bite of food. This will help prevent overeating.
–When making recipes, substitute lower fat ingredients for higher fat ingredients. Using fat-free or low-fat sour cream or cream cheese in dessert recipes is a great way to enjoy holiday favorites that taste delicious but are much lower in fat and calories.
–Use skim milk or evaporated skim milk when preparing mashed potatoes. Use herbs rather than salt to flavor.
–For holiday gravy, remove the fat from gravy using a fat separator or refrigerate the food overnight and skim off the hardened fat.
–Sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta-carotene, the plant source of vitamin A. Bake and top sweet potatoes with cinnamon and nutmeg. If you desire extra sweetness, add a small amount of orange or pineapple juice instead of marshmallows and sugar.
If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, go easy, says Heli Roy, LSU AgCenter extension nutritionist. They have calories and also can increase your appetite. If you’re watching calories, try to stay with one drink if you’re a woman, and two, if you’re a man. That way you’ll have a little extra room for other treats offered at holiday functions.
If you want to get some added nutritional value with your alcoholic beverage, go for red wine or beer, Roy says. Red wine contains phytochemicals, which are good for you, and beer includes grain products, which also are good for you.
Here are some calorie counts:
–12 ounces of beer: 149 calories regular and 110 light.
–4 ounces of wine: 80 calories for dry red and white and 105 calories for sweet red and white.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some eggnog, but you’ll need to forgo any other dessert, Roy advises. Four ounces contain about 160 calories and 10 grams of fat. Be sure to drink only pasteurized eggnog because of the potential for salmonella food poisoning.
The LSU AgCenter is one of 10 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.
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