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Portion Control Over The Holidays

Did you know that eating just one extra cookie every day during the holiday season could cause you to gain one pound? That may not sound like much, but 10 years from now you would weigh ten pounds more than you do right now — that is, if you keep the rest of your diet the same, and that is asking a lot during the holiday season. Many people gain four to five pounds this time of year because of the temptation of delicious treats and extravagant dinners.

The holiday season is a time filled with parties, family gatherings and lots of food, but with a little help, you can keep from eating too much during the holidays. If you continue to eat a healthy and nutritious diet, you will feel better and have more energy to enjoy the season.

Don’t Skip Meals
Many people believe that if they skip breakfast or lunch, they can save up all of those calories for the holiday party that night. That sounds like a good idea, but skipping meals can make you crabby, tired and maybe even leave you with a headache that just might ruin your evening festivities. Plus, when you are really hungry and surrounded by high-calorie holiday treats, you may very easily turn into a raving eating-machine and consume many more calories than the ones you skipped earlier in the day.

Don’t skip meals; just eat sensibly. A bowl of whole grain cereal and low-fat milk for breakfast, a mid-morning snack of raisins and nuts, followed by a healthy lunch with a big salad or a sandwich made with whole grain bread will keep your body and your brain fueled throughout the day.

Eat High-Fiber Foods Before the Party
When you have a party to attend, snack on some fiber-filled foods just before you go. Fiber helps you to feel full, and if you aren’t feeling so hungry, you might not eat so much at the party. Choose foods like low-calorie vegetables, a small salad, a piece of fresh fruit, or a small bowl of oatmeal.

Eat Small Amounts of the Foods You Love
No one wants to feel deprived, so go ahead and take a small piece of pie or one cookie — but not both. Look over the buffet or the serving table, and pick out one thing that you really would love to enjoy. The rest of your plate can be filled with healthy vegetables and fruits, whole grain crackers, cheese and lean meats.

Game Plan for Holiday Meal:
1.    Fill at least half of your plate with vegetables. This will leave less room for the higher-calorie items and will add bulk to your meal, helping you fill up more quickly. Choose a lot of vegetables that are not heavily seasoned with butter and/or sugar.
2.    Use familiar items to measure your portion sizes. A deck of cards, for example, is about the same size as a 3-ounce piece of meat. A tennis ball is about the same size as a sensible serving of mashed potatoes.
3.    Reduce the amount of gravies and sauces on your plate. These are normally a source of calories and fat in your meal.
4.    If you have a choice, select a smaller plate or a taller and thinner glass than the others on the buffet table. This will give you the illusion of a fuller plate or an equivalent drink.
5.    Start with a small serving; you can have more later if you are still hungry.
6.    Pace yourself through the meal. Eat slowly and participate in the conversation to give yourself a chance to enjoy the meal and feel full.
7.    Pay attention to your body’s cues. Eat slowly. Enjoy conversation. Breath. When you begin to feel full, it is time to stop.

Have a Plan:
Write down your planned meal and set it as a goal to stick to for the day. Use this a guide for managing your portions and enjoying your favorite foods in moderation!

Meal: ____________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ Dessert:__________________________________________________________

Physical Activity:___________________________________________________

Keep Exercising
Exercise is a great way to control your weight, your blood pressure and exercise adds to your good health by reducing stress and keeping your muscles and bones in good shape. Although the holidays are a hectic time, keep your exercise routines going to help ensure that the occasional treat won’t land permanently on your thighs or belly. Even if you are so busy that you have to cut your workout time in half, continuing to work out keeps you in the exercise habit. Once you quit your exercise routine, it can be very difficult to start up again — nevermind the weight you can gain from taking a hiatus.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up, Just Get Back to Healthy Eating
It is difficult to avoid overeating during the holidays. If you do slip up now and then, don’t beat yourself up for it. Be good to yourself. Remember that maintaining a healthy diet throughout the holidays takes practice. Forgive yourself and make sure your next meal or snack is a healthy one.

Sources: about.com/University of Illinois

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