Celebrate the season without adding pounds

November 25, 1997|By Lynn F. Little

Celebrate the season without adding pounds

It's the same every year the cookies, candy and rich foods that come with the holidays are just too tempting.

You indulge a bit too much and find yourself facing another New Year with a few extra pounds, clothes that fit a bit too tight, and a yearly resolution to get in shape.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Here are some suggestions on ways to keep that holiday weight from creeping up on you:

* Be realistic. The holiday season isn't a time to lose weight. Food is the centerpiece of most holiday celebrations. You'll be tempted at every turn: holiday meals, office parties, food gifts and cookie exchanges. A reasonable goal is to maintain your current weight. Keep weight loss goals for January.

* Exercise. For many of us, the holiday season is the worst time of year for exercising. It's bitter cold in the morning, dark in the evening and extra busy all day long. Besides your usual work, you have gifts to buy, cookies to bake and cards to send. Do yourself a favor and schedule time for exercise. Don't worry if the exercise isn't fancy. Just taking a walk or running in place each day can help.


* Watch your portions. At parties or big meals, it's tempting to fill your plate to overflowing. Try moderate portions or smaller helpings, selecting between potatoes and dressing, loading up on relishes and plain green vegetables, stopping at one roll with or without a small amount of margarine and jam, and asking for a small piece of pie without or with very little topping. If you are served extra large portions, predetermine the number of bites you'll eat.

* Keep healthful snack foods on hand. Fresh vegetables and fruits are healthful snacks and meal additions. If you're going to a potluck, make sure the dish you bring is light in calories and low in fat. That way you can count on at least one nutritious choice.

* Make low-fat choices at the buffet table. Choose fresh vegetables, crackers, bread and fruit over fried foods and cheese. If you want to nibble on cheese and fried canapes, take only one or two pieces. Boiled shrimp and scallops are good choices as long as you don't pull up a chair and devour the whole plate.

* Move away quickly from the buffet or snack table. Even if you are not hungry, the act of eating is contagious. Choose a seat far away from the food or keep moving about the house. Strolling around the room and talking to everyone is a great way to avoid food and meet new and interesting people.

* Keep your glass filled with mineral water or ice water with a twist of lemon. No-calorie drinks will help keep your whistle wet and your stomach satisfied without adding to your waistline.

Eating less does not have to mean less fun.

It's the socializing, not the food, that makes holidays fun. When you look at holiday gatherings as a chance to enjoy old friends and meet new ones, they become something to be savored - not just survived.

Maryland Cooperative Extension Service's programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

Lynn F. Little is an extension educator, family and consumer sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Maryland.

The Herald-Mail Articles