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Toi Degree column: Eating healthy for the holidays

As we get deeper into another holiday season, one thing is for sure: There will be parties, parties, and more parties.

Each party or gathering will offer food and drink that we will indulge in way more than we need to. This is the time of year when many Americans gain weight. It is estimated that each holiday season, Americans gain between one and five pounds. While it might not sound like much, this weight never really goes away. It only gets added to year after year.

So, how do you handle all the eating, drinking and being merry when you are dieting? Here are a few tips just in time for your first Christmas parties, gatherings and dinners.

Cocktail party

• Eat before you go! Some people skip dinner to make room for all those hors d’oeuvres, but you’re much better off having a sensible meal first — otherwise, you’ll probably completely overdo it. Then, snack on cut veggies with salsa, shrimp cocktail and other light bites.

• If you’re drinking alcohol, do so in moderation. Alternate with glasses of water. And don’t go overboard. Not only do the calories in alcohol add up, but decadent party snacks can be harder to resist when you’re under the influence.

• Tempted by mini desserts making the rounds? Grab a candy cane instead. It’s low in calories and the minty aftertaste will make you less likely to cave in to a fudge brownie.

Holiday dinner with the family is another time that we are surrounded my tons of food, so how are you going to make it through?

• Just like you don’t want to skip dinner before cocktail parties, you shouldn’t skip breakfast or lunch on the day of a holiday dinner. Eat a protein-packed breakfast and a light lunch.

• Prioritize! Exercise the day of a feast so that you’ll burn off extra calories before the main event. It doesn’t need to be a full-on sweat session. You could just bundle up and go for a walk!

• Contribute a lightened-up classic to the holiday spread. Then, you can indulge without a lick of guilt.

• Load up three quarters of your plate with lean options such as salad, white-meat chicken, turkey, veggies, etc. Then, take small portions of those decadent treats you’ve been craving all year.

• Stick to one plate — you’re less likely to overdo it when you can see exactly how much food you’re taking in. Then, politely decline taking home leftovers. If you’re hosting, give away as much as you can!

One final tip:

• Don’t overindulge early in the season and then throw in the towel until after New Year’s. Bad idea! The trick is to get right back on track with the very next meal or snack.

There you have it! I know you can do it. Have a happy holiday season!

These and other healthy eating tips and recipes can be found at: www.hungry-girl.com/recipes/categories/holiday-recipes

If you would like more information about healthy eating, contact Toi Degree, FCS agent, at 704-216-8970.

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