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nov 10 lynn little column

November 09, 1999|By Lynn F. Little

Starting with Halloween in October through Super Bowl Sunday in January, there's one eating event after another. The average weight gain over the holidays ranges from seven to 10 pounds. If there were an "Olympics for Eating," this would be it.

The games begin with the Halloween Candy Kickoff. Halloween candy collected by your kids, candy unloaded at the office, candy stockpiled from last year. In this kickoff you have to be careful or it could be pounds, not yards gained!

Following is the Thanksgiving Gobble. Though many of us have stopped stuffing our turkeys, we're still stuffing ourselves!

cont. from lifestyle

Next is the December Decathlon - a series of holiday get-togethers where we get together with our friends over food! "Try this, try that," our munching friends encourage and suddenly, we're caught in trying times!

Then, the New Year's Celebration Challenge, lasting until midnight or later, provides ample opportunity to munch too much.

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The Winter Food Olympics end with the Super Bowl Bonanza. The field is filled with food and refreshments.

Who wins the Winter Food Olympics? Those who maintain their weight! Start training now so these eating events don't weigh you down.

Here are seven strategies for success:

* Have a game plan. When approaching an obstacle course full of fat and calories, plan your strategies in advance. Equip yourself - bring lower-calorie drinks or munchies. Avoid weight penalties by choosing smaller portions. Position yourself away from pastries and heaping platters. Concentrate on conversing, not crunching cookies.

* Choose events carefully. Ask, "How does it rate?" before you put it on your plate. The food events where you can score the most points (and fewest calories) include lots of fruits, vegetables and low-fat, low-sugar goodies! With a good game plan, you can include a few traditional offerings such as Aunt Ruth's raisin cream pie and Grandma's fruitcake!

* Get in condition. Lift a weight (other than your own!) or take a walk to help your waistline. The earlier you start an exercise program, the greater the benefits. Exercise and added muscle boost your metabolism. That helps burn holiday calories.

* Find a trainer. Prepare for the Winter Food Olympics by learning new techniques. Check your local library or favorite Internet food sites for lower calorie versions of holiday foods.

* Practice pre-competition eating. Eat a light snack before the event begins. Take the edge off your appetite to avoid eating too much later on. Resist overloading on calories earlier in the day. Keep a few calories in reserve so you can enjoy goodies without guilt.

* At the event, pace yourself. Alternate between higher- and lower-calorie foods. Bypass second helpings - or take half as much the first time through. Avoid spending too much time at the dessert table. Mingle more than you munch.

* Enjoy the closing ceremony. As you weigh in at the finish line, rejoice in clearing the holiday hurdles. Congratulate yourself on successfully completing the Winter Food Olympics! Take a bow!

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




Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County.

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