Practical tips can help keep holiday eating under control

Special to the Herald-LeaderDecember 1, 2013 

Daniel Stinnett

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Thanksgiving has passed, and it is time to look ahead at the rest of the holiday season and plan for healthier eating. It's never too late to start making better food choices for yourself.

Here are some suggestions to help you reach your holiday goals, whether you want to lose weight, improve your blood sugar or just feel better.

Don't Skip: Don't skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to save calories and carbohydrates for a larger meal later. When you eat after skipping a meal, you are more likely to overeat. If you are eating a larger meal later in the day, be sure to eat breakfast as well as a snack or meal at midday.

Think Small: A simple yet effective way to help you eat less is by using the portion plate. Fill half a small plate with vegetables such as green beans, carrots or broccoli. Fill the remaining half of the plate with leaner meats such as skinless chicken, turkey, or fish that hasn't been fried. Have a side of fruit or low-fat dairy, and you have a healthy, balanced meal.

Don't Drink: Eat calories instead of drinking them. Calories that come from sweetened beverages or alcohol provide little to no nutrition. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains approximately 150 calories, and a 5-ounce glass of wine has approximately 120 calories. Focus on calorie-free drinks such as water, tea, seltzer or diet sodas.

Don't Deny: Have dessert, but take a small portion. Don't deny yourself a particular food, just eat less of it.

Get Moving: After your meal, take a walk with family and friends. Exercise will give you a break from being surrounded by food. Exercise can help burn additional calories to help you better control your weight as well as increase your metabolism, so your body burns calories more effectively. Plan a family game of tag or flag football, or a video game that requires everyone to get up and move. Being active helps to burn calories but also takes the focus of the holiday off food and places it on spending time with those important to you.

Don't Worry: If you do overeat, don't beat yourself up. Make a plan to get back on track. Set small, realistic goals for yourself which can help motivate you to continue with the healthy lifestyle changes you have decided to make.

Daniel Stinnett is a licensed registered dietitian with Baptist Diabetes, Health and Nutrition Services at Baptist Health Lexington.

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