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COLUMN: Avoid overeating this holiday season

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By Jessica Bickett, Lincoln Trail Health Department

 Did you know an extra 100 calories per day can cause you to gain 10 pounds per year? That may not sound like much, but an extra 5 or 10 pounds every year for the next several years can add up to be a lot of extra weight.  

The holiday season is filled with family gatherings, parties and dinners that tempt us with all sorts of delicious dishes and treats. With a little planning and a little effort, you can avoid overindulging and feel your best this season. Remember these tips:

• Have a plan. You don’t have to try everything. Save those calories for the things you really want.  

• Practice making holiday recipes healthier. Prepare your favorite dishes using low-fat, no added sugar or lower sodium substitutes. Many recipes can be modified to cut calories and still taste wonderful.  

• Don’t skip meals. If you know that you are going to a party don’t try to save all of your calories so that you can pig out later. Skipping meals is not good for your metabolism and usually leads to overeating.  

• Fill up on fiber. Snack on some fiber -filled fruits and vegetables before you go. Fiber helps us to feel full. Low calorie vegetables, a piece of fresh fruit or a small bowl of oatmeal are some suggestions.  

• Don’t linger around the food. If possible, try to stay in a room or area away from the food. If you are constantly looking at tables of goodies, you will eat them.  

• Use a small plate. You can’t put as much food on a smaller plate. Also, use tall, skinny glasses instead of wider glasses. It is a proven fact that people drink less out of taller, skinnier glasses and more out of shorter, wide glasses.  

• Take a break. Don’t constantly nibble. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to get the message that your body is getting food. Eat slowly.

• Treat yourself. Remember, you can have that piece of pie or cake, but not a sample of every single one. As always moderation is the key.

• Watch your beverages. Alcoholic beverages have a lot of empty calories that contribute to extra holiday pounds. Watch out for the eggnog too. An 8 ounce serving has around 345 calories.  

• Try to stay active. People are generally less active in the winter months. Take a walk outside after dinner or try a walking, dance or aerobics video. You could also get a jumpstart on the New Year by joining a gym or fitness club. Exercise is also a great remedy for holiday stress or depression.  

The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy and celebrate family ... and food. Following these tips can help you to feel great and energetic throughout the season.  

Jessica Spalding Bickett, MBA, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian with Lincoln Trail District Health Department. Nutrition counseling is available for children and adults by appointment at the LaRue County Health Center. For further information, call 358-3844.