Keeping waistlines in check during the holidays | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's note: The author of this post, Dr. Kimberly Myers, is a contributor to ECU News Services.

    For anyone who cringes at the thought of all of the parties, cookie exchanges, and buffet-laden meals that have filled the December calendar, East Carolina University associate professor of nutrition science Dr. Kimberly Myers laid out her top tips for making it through the holiday season guilt  -  and extra pounds  -  free.

    1. Practice healthy holiday cooking by preparing favorite dishes with low-fat, low-calorie options. For example, use skim milk in the mashed potatoes instead of half and half. Making dressing? Use more onions, garlic, and veggies and less bread.

    2. When attending a holiday party, eat a light snack such as a favorite fruit or a small salad before attending. This will help to decrease the temptation to over-indulge.

    3. When cooking your favorite holiday treats, substitute regular eggs with Omega-3 fatty acid enriched eggs to increase the nutritional value of these foods. There are several brands available at your local grocery store.

    4. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are all naturally high in dietary fiber which helps to provide a sensation of fullness. When snacking over the holidays, try to add a source of fiber to snacks and it will help to satisfy the need to snack.

    5. Portion size! Portion size! Portion size! It is okay to eat your favorite holiday treats as long as you only have one serving and you pay attention to serving sizes. Having several servings of your favorite holiday snack in one sitting will quickly add up to extra calories  -  and we all know that extra calories equal extra pounds.

    6. If you eat too many calories at one meal, eat less at the next meal. It takes 500 extra calories each day above a normal caloric amount to gain one pound. One piece of Mom's homemade fudge is not going to have enough calories to cause weight gain as long as the extra calories are balanced with the rest of the daily caloric intake.

    7. Don't drink calories. Remember that sweet tea, regular sodas, "fancy" coffees, and alcoholic beverages all contain extra calories.

    8. When traveling to a family member or friend's house for the holidays, prepare a healthy, low-fat, low-calorie dish to share.

    9. When preparing dips, sauces and pie toppings, use fat-free yogurt, sour cream, and whipped toppings to reduce total calories

    10. Set aside time for daily exercise. Exercise will help reduce holiday stress and can help burn those extra holiday calories. If time does not allow for the usual exercise routine, break it up into two smaller exercise sessions in the same day.

    While a "Top 10" is the norm set out by the late-night talk show hosts, Myers wanted to give one last and very important tip: BE REALISTIC! The holidays are not the best time to focus on losing weight, instead focus on maintaining one's current weight.

    For more helpful tips on eating and living healthy through the holidays and beyond, pick up a copy of "The Inflammation Cure Cookbook" by Drs. Myers and Meggs now available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.com.
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