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Enjoy – don’t regret – those holiday parties

foodBy Melinda Duffie

What’s the number one problem we all face during the holiday season? It is gaining weight!

The average weight gain during the holidays is seven to 12 pounds. This is no surprise with the bombardment of food advertising on television and magazines covers displaying decadent desserts and recipes. Then, there is all the food that lingers in the break room at work and finds its way to your desk.

Does this sound familiar?

Every year you wrestle with the fact that you want to enjoy the holidays but not knowing how to do that and not miss out on the festivities. You try to not eat or drink too much but that doesn’t happen.

As you begin the holiday season you resign yourself to the fact that following the overindulgence of food and drink, those extra pounds are literally staring you in the face. Your clothes are fitting tighter and you are aggravated that it happened again. You then start exercising with a vengeance only to burn out before those pounds come off.

So what is the answer to your problem, and one that you can live with? It is easier than you think. It is possible to look and feel good during and after the holiday season. Let’s layout some helpful guidelines to consider:

1. Water — Drink plenty of water. This will help keep you from eating as much and keep you hydrated. Water is important for body fat reduction, as well. Even if you aren’t currently drinking enough water this is a good time to start.

2. Exercise — Keep to your exercise regimen, and if you need to augment your schedule to accommodate events just move your exercise to another day and don’t skip it altogether. If you are not exercising regularly, this is not a bad time to start. More and more people are starting exercise programs during the holiday season.

3. Sleep — Get more than six hours of sleep every night. It is easy to burn the candle at both ends and end up eating and drinking too much. This will help you have more energy and not get run down and tired.

4. Eat smart — Always start your day with breakfast, preferably a protein source and a little fruit or vegetable. Eat smaller, more-frequent meals minus all the starch, bread and sweets for the most part each day. Don’t starve yourself during the day to “save up” for the party later. After keeping yourself satisfied you will make better food choices and not overeat. When you are at the party eat small portions of the food you really want to eat. Don’t just eat everything or fill your plate up to overflowing. Pay attention to the cue of becoming full and stop before you stuff yourself. This way you will really enjoy the food. Your higher calories foods are cream based along with your chips and crackers. Be careful of eating too much cheese and nuts as they are higher in fat and a little goes a long way.

5. Beverages — Use the same principle on this as your food. Choose a beverage you really want to enjoy, also being aware of the food you are eating and fullness.

6. Cooking techniques — There are several ways to cut down on calories without sacrificing taste. Use light versions of cheeses and diary such as light cream cheese, light sour cream and low-fat yogurt in your recipes for cakes, dips, casseroles and pies. Unsweetened applesauce can be used instead of oil in cake recipes. Using less sugar and more of a sugar substitute such as Truvia in pies, cakes and cookies helps, too. Substituting unsweetened almond and coconut milk can be used in place of milk and cream, especially if you are lactose-intolerant. Instead of using regular flour you can use almond flour or gluten free all-purpose flour if you want to reduce gluten in your food. If you want to alter any of your recipes there are several internet sites that can give you more alternatives.

Moderation and balance are always the key principles. Remember the goal is to REALLY enjoy the holiday season and not regretting what you have done. So make smart choices and do a little planning and you will enter the New Year successfully.

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