Tips to manage holiday eating

Posted: Monday, December 09, 2002

NEWTON, Kan. -- Parties and family gatherings are an essential part of the holiday season. But parties usually are accompanied by overeating. Rhonda Horsch, director of the dietary department at the Newton, Kan., Medical Center, offered some tips from The American Dietetic Association on how to keep your holiday healthy.

Knowing how to navigate the food tables can keep parties fun, stress-free and nutritionally managed.

Don't go to parties hungry. You're likely to overeat.

Scan the entire buffet table before you make your food choices. Decide which foods you can live without and choose small portions of the foods you want to enjoy.

Pace your alcohol intake, which can cause overeating. Alternating alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages can avoid the hunger that alcohol often causes.

When you're ready to eat, choose a small plate. Don't nibble from a buffet. Choose small portions of all your favorite treats and try to balance these choices with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

December is busy with parties, gatherings and shopping. Squeezing exercise into this schedule will help reduce stress, promote health and burn extra calories.

Horsch suggests taking the family ice skating, for a walk, or even biking to start a holiday "activity" tradition. Aerobic activity -- like biking, walking, rollerblading and running -- provides the best workout for the cardiovascular system and is the best type of exercise for weight loss. In addition, physical activity helps energize you for the rest of the day's activities.

If you plan to spend the next few weeks shopping, don't forget to plan time to eat. Try these tips for eating well:

Eat breakfast or a snack before you head out. Include plenty of carbohydrates, some protein and a little fat. Shopping on an empty stomach may make you go overboard at lunch.

Share your food with a friend. If you stop for lunch or a snack, cut calories by splitting the food with a friend.

Don't deprive yourself of your favorites. If you crave something sweet, don't worry. Walking the mall, carrying packages and parking farther away from entrances will help to burn those extra calories.

Make sure to stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and drink from it often. Try to consume one cup of water every hour.

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