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6 tips for healthy holiday eating without deprivation

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It's that time of year when celebrations include an abundance of good food.

Whether you are managing your weight or simply don’t want to begin the New Year by tipping the scales, you can enjoy seasonal treats without piling on the pounds!

  1. Never go to a party hungry. Skipping a meal or banking your calories beforehand prior to the holiday party can backfire. If we under-eat, we become ravenous later and more than make up for the calorie deficit when we do eat. Consume moderate portions throughout the day and consider a small snack before an event can help to prevent you from overeating at a party.
  2. Slow down. We often aren’t aware of all we pile on our plate during parties. Between the distractions of socializing to having to sample everything, it’s easy to get excited and eat quickly. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is full. Slow down by taking small bites and setting silverware down periodically. You may be surprised to learn that less food will actually satisfy you.
  3. Use smaller dishes. Our eyes are as big as our stomachs. We can fool our brains into thinking we’re eating more food by using a smaller plate. This tricks the eye into having us feel satisfied with less food.
  4. Offer to bring a healthier choice. Special occasions call for special foods normally enjoyed only once a year, but this shouldn’t prevent us from bringing a healthier dish or fresh vegetable or fruit tray to the party. You can also “lighten” a rich holiday recipe by using low-fat or fat-free ingredients, or even by replacing unhealthy ingredients altogether.
  5. Watch alcohol consumption. Let’s face it, liquid calories can add up. A standard beer usually accounts for about 100 to 150 calories per 12-ounce bottle or can. A five-ounce glass of wine (red or white) has the same number of calories. Each ounce of hard liquor can add up to 60 to 100 extra calories, and that number increases when you add mixes or creamers. Calories consumed from alcohol can sometimes add up to the same as a small meal.
  6. Socialize strategically. The most popular area to congregate usually is in the kitchen or near the buffet. However, easy access to food while you are focused on talking makes it easy to overindulge. Find a spot away from the dishes and concentrate on your food as well as the company you keep.

Remember, the worst thing you can do is deprive yourself. These special events come just once a year, but just a few small changes can make the difference between maintaining and gaining weight over the holidays.

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