LSU AgCenter dietitian gives tips on healthy holiday eating

Vicky Chesser  |  11/21/2008 8:50:19 PM

Holiday News You Can Use Distributed 11/21/08

Families can keep holiday traditions without tipping the scale by following a few tips from Vicky Chesser, LSU AgCenter registered dietitian.

Although the average American gains 3 to 5 pounds during the holidays, Chesser says you do not necessarily have to cut fat and calories out of favorite holiday recipes as long as you are physically active.

The LSU AgCenter dietitian said the pounds don’t necessarily come off because of a New Year’s resolution. Shortly after New Year’s come Valentine’s Day candy, Mardi Gras parties and Easter chocolates, and before you know it, it’s football tailgating season again.

“Radical changes will not work. We didn’t get habits overnight,” Chesser said. “We’re not going to change them overnight.”

She recommends the following:

Get plenty of sleep. Studies show lack of sleep is associated with being overweight.

Drink water. The better hydrated you are, the better your metabolism is.

Dress for success. Don’t go to a holiday meal wearing roomy clothes. Get rid of your comfortable clothes. “At least don’t eat in them,” Chesser said.

Eat slowly. Put your fork down after every bite.

Have a plan. You don’t always know what you are going to eat. Eating breakfast makes you less tempted to eat if you are not hungry. Don’t arrive starving.

Carry comfortable shoes with you so you can take an extra lap around the block or around the mall after shopping.

When you are the guest, volunteer to be the photographer. “Busy hands can’t be eating hands,” Chesser said.

Other suggestions for the guests are:

Talk more and eat less. Spend time with your family. “It’s not really about the food,” Chesser said.

Don’t let the different foods on your plate touch; that keeps portions smaller.

Put your napkin over your plate when you are finished. “If that doesn’t work, sprinkle salt over the food.”

Instead of bringing a hostess gift, bring something that can be donated to the local food bank.

Go for a walk before you leave.

Be a healthy hostess by not putting food all over the house.

“Use nuts that have to be cracked.” They take longer to eat and cost less, Chesser said. Also, find out ahead of time if your guests have nut allergies.

Use smaller plates that are blue. People not only will make smaller portions, they tend to eat less from blue serving pieces, Chesser said.

Have guests take what is left over home with them in inexpensive plastic containers you provide. This reduces cleanup and the amount of leftovers in your refrigerator.

Fix a plate for a neighbor.

Don’t encourage overeating. Pressure to try everything can be overwhelming for guests trying to watch calories.

Workplace tips include letting coworkers know you are trying to watch what you eat, taking your candy dish off your desk, not lingering in break rooms, donating a dollar to a candy sale rather than taking the chocolate and holding monthly birthday celebrations rather than celebrating each person individually.

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Contact: Vicky Chesser at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1501, or vchesser@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or mvanosdell@agcenter.lsu.edu

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