Staying Healthy Through The Holidays

COLLEGE STATION, Nov. 18, 2010 – The holiday season brings celebrations with family and friends — and lots of food.  For many Americans, these celebrations will contribute to extra pounds in 2011. But overindulgence doesn’t have to be the rule this holiday season if simple steps are taken to keep everything in balance.

Reynolette Ettienne-Gittens, a registered dietician who is studying for a doctorate in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University, says it is easy to eat healthy while still enjoying events of the season.

“The holidays are not a time where you have to change what you have been doing,” Ettienne-Gittens says.

She offers tips for avoiding festive overindulgence:

  • Eat before you eat. If you are going to an event, have a light snack so you don’t get to the party starving. Have some low-fat cheese or something high in fiber. Don’t arrive hungry because that’s when people tend to overeat.
  • Bring healthy eating with you. If you are taking food to an event, bring a healthy dish, such as a salad, for others to enjoy.
  • Fool your eyes. Ettienne-Gittens suggests using smaller plates at events. We tend to fill our plates with everything we see. With a smaller plate, there is less space to fill with food.
  • Do your own work. Instead of letting someone else prepare a plate of food for you, do it yourself. “You know how much you eat and how hungry you are,” Ettienne-Gittens says.
  • Work the room. Having conversations with other guests during your meal can give time for the body to decide if it really needs another slice of turkey. Also steer away from sitting too close to any cookies or snacks laid out for guests. You’ll wind up nibbling on tons of calories all night.
  • Liquid calories count. Remember that both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are going to be in large supply. A cup of eggnog can have over 300 calories a serving. “Those calories add up at the end of the day,” Ettienne-Gittens says. “Try water or a spritzer.”
  • Keep a food diary. Most people don’t realize how much they are eating unless they write it down. Record everything you eat to track your food intake. This can be helpful if you decide to start a weight loss program after the holidays.
  • Continue exercising. If you have been working out, keep up the routine. Even simple exercise, such as walking, can help keep the pounds off. “When you are shopping or returning gifts, park farther away from the stores,” Ettienne-Gittens says.

Holidays and food go hand in hand, but with a common-sense approach and some planning, you can have a great holiday season and not dread stepping on the scale in January, says Ettienne-Gittens.

For additional information, contact Dell Billings, (979) 862-4425 or d-billings@hlkn.tamu.edu; or Kelli Levey, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4645 or klevey@tamu.edu.

For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamunews.tamu.edu.

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