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Holiday Eating

Have a plan to control flurry of party feasts

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a flurry of holiday gatherings, parties and celebrations.
And with those get-togethers come loads of food. That can seem discouraging to partygoers who are trying to watch their weight.
But experts say the health-conscious eater is not doomed — you can still enjoy all the holiday fare and festivities.
The key, they say, is to go into the situation with a plan and keep moderation in mind.
“I usually tell people if they know they’re going to a party where there’s going to be a lot of tempting items is to make sure to eat a small meal before you go so you’re not ravenous when you get there,” said Heather Royle, Lincoln Medical Center’s clinical dietitian.
The fiber in a piece of fruit will go a long way in filling you up, she said.
Sandy Payne, who teachers a Weight Watchers class in Lincolnton, is also an advocate of having a mental game plan before going to the big feast.
“We try to plan ahead. It’s a mental rehearsal,” Payne said. “We think about it in advance. We make sure we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner, but we don’t overeat.”
Neither says that any food on the Thanksgiving table is off-limits. You can have some of everything you like, as long as you keep the portion sizes under control.
Royle recommends eating off a small plate. This makes smaller servings seem larger. And if you do choose to have seconds, you won’t feel as guilty because of the smaller portion you consumed.
“I don’t like to say there’s any food off limits,” Royle said. “There’s no magic bullet — it’s all in the amounts that we eat.”
If you want to indulge in a traditional Thanksgiving food that might not be as healthy, do it, just in a smaller way.
“If you deprive yourself, you’re going to overeat later on,” she said.
Keeping up with regular exercise plans is crucial, Royle said.
“Instead of sitting on the couch after a huge meal … do some type of exercise to help burn off those calories,” she said.
Taking a brisk walk or heading outside for a game of touch football is an easy and fun way to avoid an after-meal nap on the couch.
Royle said it is easy to put on weight during the holiday season, especially if you’re going to multiple parties. But keeping a positive attitude and sticking to a plan can help you sail through.
“If you do really overdo it on some foods, don’t beat yourself up about it. Know you can get out and do better the next day,” she said.
Royle offered the following tips to employees at Lincoln Medical Center.
· Be realistic. Trying to lose weight during the holidays may be a self-defeating goal. Instead strive to maintain your weight.
· Balance party eating with other meals. Eat small, low-calorie meals during the day.
· Take the edge off your hunger before a party by eating a small, low-fat snack.
· Conversation is calorie-free. Don’t rush to the table when you arrive at a party.
· Ask for sparkling water and a lime twist instead of wine, champagne or a mixed drink.
· If bringing a dish, make it a healthy one. That way, you’ll know there’s always something with fewer calories you can munch on.
· Forget the all-or-nothing mindset. Deprivation can lead to overeating.
· When you’re entertaining, make over your menus with fewer calories and fat. Guests probably won’t even know the difference.
· Have fun. Sharing food is part of many people’s celebrations. Enjoying a traditional holiday meal and party foods with family and friends doesn’t need to destroy healthful food habits you’ve nurtured all year long.
· Physical activity is a good way to burn calories before you head out and can make you feel less guilty when enjoying party favorites.by Alice Smith

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