Friday, 28 December 2012 00:00
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Avoid eating too much during festivals

DO you know that eating just one extra cookie every day during the  holiday or festival season could cause you to gain one pound? That may not sound like much, but 10 years from now, you would weigh ten pounds more than you do right now -- that is, if you keep the rest of your diet the same. Many people gain four to five pounds this time of year because of the temptation of delicious treats and extravagant dinners.

The festival season is a time filled with parties, family gatherings, and lots of food, but with a little help, you can keep from eating too much during this period. If you continue to eat a healthy and nutritious diet, you will feel better and have more energy to enjoy the season. Here are some tips:

Do not skip meals. Many people believe that if they skip breakfast or lunch, they can save up all of those calories for the holiday party that night. That sounds like a good idea, but skipping meals can make you crabby, tired and maybe even leave you with a headache that just might ruin your evening festivities. Plus, when you are really hungry and surrounded by high-calorie holiday treats, you may very easily turn into a raving eating-machine and consume many more calories than the ones you skipped earlier in the day.

Eat a bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk for breakfast, a mid-morning snack of raisins and nuts, followed by a healthy lunch with a big salad or a sandwich made with whole grain bread will keep your body and your brain fueled throughout the day.

Eat high-fiber foods before the party. When you have a party to attend, snack on some fiber-filled foods just before you go. Fiber helps you to feel full, and if you are not feeling so hungry, you might not eat so much at the party. Choose foods like low-calorie vegetables, a small salad, a piece of fresh fruit, or a small bowl of oatmeal.

Eat small amounts of the foods you love. No one wants to feel deprived, so go ahead and take a small piece of pie or one cookie -- but not both. Look over the buffet or the serving table, and pick out one thing that you really would love to enjoy. The rest of your plate can be filled with healthy vegetables and fruits, whole grain crackers, cheese and lean meats.

Do not hang around the buffet. It is not easy to resist the delicious foods you find on a buffet at a party. So, get away from the table. Choose your foods and your drink and move to a different part of the room. As they say, out of sight, out of mind. At the very least, you will have to think about what you are doing before filling your plate again and again.

Pace yourself - slow down. When friends and family gather at a meal, the food is usually piled high on most everyone's plate. You wolf down the first plate and pick out more of your favorites to gobble down as second helpings. It takes a few minutes for your brain to realise your stomach is getting full, and you can eat a lot of extra food in those few minutes. You do not need a giant mound of food, so, place small portions on your plate.

Set your fork down between bites and sip some water. Relax and enjoy the flavour of each mouthful. Chew each bite thoroughly before you swallow. Savor each moment with your friends, your family and this wonderful food, but remember it is a meal, not a race to see who can eat the fastest.

Drink plenty of water. Many people believe that mild dehydration feels like hunger, and the best way is to avoid becoming dehydrated to drink plenty of water. You can also use water to slow down your eating by taking a sip or two between bites. Have a glass or two of water before you start drinking alcoholic beverages, and have one in between drinks to slow down your alcohol consumption as well. (Not only can cocktails be high in calories, but overindulging in alcohol can lower your awareness of how much you are eating.)

Keep healthy snacks at work. You will be more prepared to resist the high-calorie holiday treats brought in by co-workers and customers. These treats are always tasty, but rarely healthy. Snack on nuts, raisins, fresh fruit or energy bars instead so that your snack calories provide you with good nutrition. If you are going to indulge in a holiday goody, make sure it's not an everyday add-on.

Exercise is a great way to control your weight, your blood pressure and exercise adds to your good health by reducing stress and keeping your muscles and bones in good shape. Although the holidays are a hectic time, keep your exercise routines going to help ensure that the occasional treat will not land permanently on your thighs or belly. Even if you are so busy that you have to cut your workout time in half, continuing to work out keeps you in the exercise habit. Find out how much food you should eat before you exercise. Once you quit your exercise routine, it can be very difficult to start up again -- nevermind the weight you can gain from taking a hiatus.

Decide what to buy before you go into that shop. You know how tempting it is to walk into a coffee or candy shop. That temptation seems to double itself during the festival season. You may think you are going into the coffee shop for a cup of coffee, but when you see that delicious mocha with whipped cream and peppermint sprinkles, you suddenly decide you need that one instead.

Decide what you want before you go in and stick to it. I know that huge glazed doughnut in the pastry case looks so good and tastes so sweet, but it also adds a lot of calories and sugar that you do not need. Just order your coffee and get out of there -- fast. Same thing goes for the candy shop. Do you really want a small square of dark chocolate? That is fine, just go into the shop, buy one and enjoy it. Do not go in and buy three truffles, a peanut butter cup and two caramel-pecan turtles.

It is difficult to avoid overeating during the holidays (especially the sweets -- find out how much sugar you can have each day). If you do slip up now and then, do not beat yourself up for it. Be good to yourself. Remember that maintaining a healthy diet throughout the holidays takes practice. Forgive yourself and make sure your next meal or snack is a healthy one.