Eat Smart This Holiday Season

by J.C. Morrison, EFNEP Extension Associate

The holiday season is nearly upon us! Around this time of year, we gather with family and friends at parties, reunions and celebrations that generally involve food – large portions of food! Holidays are an excuse to indulge in one of our favorite things to do: eat. But with such indulgence can come weight gain, which can lead to health problems. With recent studies saying that more than one-third (78.6 million!) Americans are obese, it is important to keep your eating habits in check throughout the holidays. You don’t have to eliminate those delicious holiday goodies you’ve been looking forward to since last year. Instead, practice proper portion control, eating in moderation.

myplate_blueHere are some tips for the holidays to help satisfy your cravings without over-indulging:

  • MyPlate, the USDA’s portion control guideline, is a good starting point. The simple diagram will help you remember your daily serving amounts and help steer you toward the healthier holiday options. The MyPlate website is chock full of additional information and resources on healthy eating.
  • If your plate isn’t half fruits and vegetables, then you’re off track and need to go back and get MORE veggies! Sweets often abound at holiday parties, but so do those fruit and vegetable trays, so don’t pass them by.
  • Drink plenty of water! Being fully hydrated will help you avoid from over eating, simply because your body is already full on water.
  • Chew your food! It takes nearly 15 minutes for your stomach to relay the message of being full to your brain. So taking your time and chewing your food carefully will give your stomach and mind the time it needs to understand when you’re finished eating.
  • Skipping dessert will certainly help keep your waistline in check, but who wants to skip dessert? Instead, approach the dessert table smartly. Remember that most desserts have a lot of sugar in them, and a lot of calories. If you follow the previous steps before moving on to dessert, you’ll be able to opt for a smaller portion of pie or candy, satisfying that sweet tooth without overdoing it.

Just remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Getting to where you want to be with your eating habits won’t happen overnight. If you remember these short, easy-to-follow tips, then hopefully you won’t find yourself unwrapping extra pounds this holiday season.

 

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