Simple Holiday Eating Strategies

Kimberly A. Evans  |  12/17/2010 3:45:41 AM

The upcoming holiday season will provide an overabundance of every kind of food imaginable as well as more opportunities where food will be served. To avoid putting on any extra pounds during the holiday season, here are some simple tips you can follow to help you make it through the holidays.

Be realistic
Don’t focus on weight loss during the holidays. You will want to focus on doing what you can to maintain your current weight. After the holidays are over you can refocus on your weight loss efforts at that time. It’s important also to not justify binge eating during the holidays because you know you will be restricting food again come January 1. Come to terms with the fact that you will eat a little more when faced with tempting treats. That way, you can enjoy the treats and you’ll be less likely to binge.

Don’t go to a holiday event hungry
We eat more and faster when we’re hungry. And don’t starve yourself the day of the event. Eat healthy throughout the day and this will work to reduce your hunger for an evening event. To satisfy that last bit of hunger before an event you can try a high-protein snack like an apple with peanut butter, yogurt, unsalted almonds or walnuts, or non-fat cheese.

Watch your portions
Treat yourself to the higher calorie foods without guilt but keep the amount you eat under control. This is a great way to sample different foods. Commit to using a small plate – and no piling food on the plate.

Check out the choices of foods before filling your plate
Decide what you are going to eat in advance and make only one trip to the food tables. Keep this ratio in mind when filling your plate: ½ vegetables, ¼ lean meat and ¼ starches.

Avoid recreational eating
It takes at least 20 minutes for the message to get from the stomach to the brain that it is getting full. During that time you can pile on the calories through social eating – food is there and everyone else is eating. Enjoy your choices and wait at least 30 minutes before deciding if you are still hungry and need to eat more.

Make a conscious choice to limit high-fat items
If it’s creamy, fried or filled with cheese then it is most probably loaded with fat and calories. Low-fat, high fiber foods allow you to eat a larger amount for fewer calories and not feel deprived.

Go easy on eggnog, punch and alcoholic beverages
Many are packed with calories and drinking up your calories is not going to satisfy your hunger.

Maintain perspective
Overeating one day won’t make or break your eating plan. And it certainly won’t make you gain weight. It takes days of overeating to cause a weight gain. If you do overindulge, don’t throw in the towel. Plan to get back on track the next day. There are going to be obstacles on the road to healthy eating and the best way to get past them without having a crash is to be prepared for them and be ready with solutions that will help you get around them.

Consider modifying your favorite holiday recipes to reduce fat, sugar and sodium
Remove the skin from the turkey before serving it. Use low-fat or non-fat milk instead of heavy cream and try low-fat sour cream in place of the butter when making mashed potatoes. Substitute egg whites or egg substitute and fat free evaporated milk when making pies. Make a healthier dressing by using canola oil when making the cornbread and sautéing vegetables. Try fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth and egg whites only when mixing the dressing. You can also use whole-grain bread instead of white bread.

For local information and educational programs, contact Kim Evans, extension agent in the LaSalle Parish LSU AgCenter office. This office is located in Room 22 of the Courthouse and the telephone number is 318-992-2205.

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