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Don't let the holidays weigh heavily on you

December 19, 2000

Don't let the holidays weigh heavily on you



For many of us, the holiday season is laden with stress and overeating. But there are ways to lighten the load. Here are some tips to help curb overeating:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Plan ahead. It's not the total calories you take in during the day, but the average of "calories in" versus "calories out" over the course of time that determines weight gain.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Take time for regular exercise. Besides burning calories, exercise is a great tonic for stress. Schedule exercise dates with friends and family throughout the holiday season, and stick to them. Bundle up for outdoor walks. Pull ski gear out of the closet. Try one new activity this winter. Many health clubs offer incentives at this time of year. Find one you like and that you will stick with over the winter.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Expect some high-calorie days, but also plan low-calorie days. Make these your "soup, salad and veggies" days.

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HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> On days when you have social engagements, beware of the tendency to go hungry all day, only to find yourself ravenous by the time you get to the party. Instead, eat small, satisfying meals and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

For example, if your calorie intake for weight maintenance is around 1,800 calories, cutting back by one-third for each meal and snack throughout the day will save you about 600 calories that you can draw on during that evening.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> At parties, position yourself far from the hors d'oeuvres table. At buffets, move through the line once. Choose sensible items like steamed vegetables, one type of lean meat, poultry or fish, and one type of pasta or rice. Top your plate with cut fruit or fruit salad, rather than filling an extra plate with rich desserts. At the table, eat slowly and enjoy the opportunity to visit with friends.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Look at your calendar to see which engagements may include alcohol. At seven calories per gram, alcohol is more calorie-dense than carbohydrates and proteins. Water, club soda and diet sodas are all low-calorie alternatives. Knowing ahead of time when you might choose to drink will also allow you to arrange for a designated driver.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Plan time to recharge. Holidays place added demands on time, energy and emotions. Remember your priorities over the holidays, whether it's taking time for exercise, walking with your children or grandchildren, building a snowman or making a festive, healthy holiday dinner for loved ones. Take time to enjoy the beauty of the season.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County. Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

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