Play smart during the 'eating season'

November 25, 2009|By LYNN LITTLE / Special to The Herald-Mail

With a nibble here and nibble there, it's easy to add a few extra pounds during the "eating season," the time between Nov. 1 and the end of the Super Bowl.

During the eating season, normal activities, such as eating, sleeping and exercise often are set aside in favor of holiday activities and events. While spending time with family and friends is enjoyable, most holiday activities include seasonal foods that often are high in calories, sugar and fat.

An invitation to a party or special event should not be considered an invitation to overeat. To enjoy holiday foods without adding pounds, consider the following tips:

o Schedule regular meals and snacks during the holiday season. Eating lightly before a party or event can take the edge off your appetite and still leave room for sampling party foods.


o Make and serve healthful snacks, such as fruit, cut-up vegetables with a low-calorie dip, or low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses with whole-grain crackers.

o Survey the offerings on a buffet table before getting in line. This will help you decide which foods you will choose.

o Choose a smaller plate and a variety of foods.

o Return a fork or spoon to the plate or bowl after each bite. Chew slowly, and savor the flavor and texture of the food.

o Reduce temptation by choosing a seat well away from the buffet table.

o Socialize, rather than going back for second helpings. Engage in conversation or activities away from the food table. Wait 20 to 30 minutes after eating before considering a return trip to the buffet table.

o If you are preparing food for a buffet or hosting a holiday party, be sure to offer your guests a variety of foods including foods that are low in fat and low in calories.

o Enjoy family-favorite and holiday foods in moderation.

And after dinner ...

If you are tired or stressed and beginning to think about food, even though you might still be feeling full from a previous meal, consider an early bedtime or a walk around the block, rather than a trip to the kitchen to add unnecessary calories.

Also, chewing gum, sugar-free hard candy, or simply doing some stretching can help to tame the temptation to use food to ease fatigue or stress.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

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