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Ester Marsh: Eating tips for the holidays

By Ester Marsh
For the Salisbury Post
Last week, I wrote about keeping active through the holidays. Now, I hope to inspire you to not gain weight over the holidays by giving you some eating tips.
Just as a disclaimer, I am not a licensed nutritionist. But the information is just common sense choices and just little tricks that work for me through the holidays.
There will be lots of parties around the holidays with lots of wonderful, mostly high calorie, food, snacks and drinks. I am not going to tell you not to go any parties.
That is what the holidays are all about-getting together with friends and family … and food is bringing friends and family together. So how can we look at food and not see it as an enemy? How can we eat the things we like and not gain weight?
This is what I do (and that is a few years ago after I had gained 5 lbs over the holidays and realized I have to watch my calories too):
Don’t ever go hungry to any party, whether it is a dinner party or a party with lots of wonderful snacks. Have a healthy snack or salad before you go. This way you can handle temptations a lot better. If it is a Halloween party, wear a tight costume – that always works for me.
Buy Halloween candy for the kids that you don’t like that much. When I buy candy, I like I eat.
Don’t over buy candy. Have a budget and when candy is gone turn porch light off. When you have left over candy, get rid of it as soon as possible. (Bringing it to the YMCA always works for me.)
When having Thanksgiving dinner (which is right around the corner) or any other holiday lunch/dinner use a small plate. You can only load so much on that little plate.
Wait 15 to 20 minutes before you go for your second helping. It takes about that long for your brain to realize that you are full. Why do you think everyone’s pants come undone after they eat Thanksgiving dinner? They went for seconds/thirds/fourths when their brain finally realized-I am stuffed.
Now, how about those home baked goods? You know the ones everyone brings into work? This is what I do:
I run and hide.
If that does not work, I say thank you and try to get rid of it (move to different location far away from my office) as soon as possible. When it sits there on my desk-staring at me-calling my name-what do you think will happen? I will eat it.
Make sure you have healthy (and good tasting) snacks nearby, so when you feel like snacking (seeing all those baked goods) you can make a good choice.
When you really want it, remember how you felt after the last time you caved in. Was it worth it? Sometimes it really is.
Remember, calories in – calories out. When I eat more calories than I burn I gain weight. When it is equal, weight stays the same. When I burn more calories than I eat – I lose weight. Sometimes, that wonderful home- baked treasure is worth eating, just be aware of your calorie intake.
So many people have figured out that when you are able to exercise more (burn more calories than usual) you can handle extra calories. They stay an extra 20-30 minutes, or come in once or twice more per week and are able to enjoy the “forbidden” foods while keeping their weight the same.
Don’t forget all the liquid calories you consume during the holidays. Your eggnog, wines and specialty drinks are loaded with calories. Alternate your high calorie drinks with water or seltzer water. Walk around with a pretty glass with seltzer water with an olive on a stick in it-they won’t ask you to have another one.
Alcohol consumption goes up a lot during the holidays. Just be smart – don’t drink and drive. Besides that, alcohol has lots of calories.
Especially through the holidays, weigh yourself once a week. This way you won’t be shocked after the holidays. But most of all – enjoy the Holidays, enjoy your family and friends, enjoy yourself.
Ester H Marsh ACSM Cpt Health and Fitness Director JF Hurley Family YMCA

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