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Make Holiday Meals Healthy Ones

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

With the holidays approaching, experts at the Duke Diet and
Fitness Center
(DFC) offer tips for preparing healthy
meals, avoiding overindulgence at the table and making sure
exercise is included in the busy holiday schedule.

Elisabetta Politi, DFC nutrition manager, recommended the
following for a healthier holiday season.

--Don't try to diet during the holidays. Set a goal of
trying to maintain your present weight. That way, you have a
realistic goal. Allow yourself to indulge here and there, but
don't go overboard.

--Pace, don't race. Pay attention to how quickly you eat and
exactly what you eat and drink. Savor the flavor by eating
slowly and choosing your food carefully.

--Remember that alcohol is packed with calories. Choose
light beer and wine over mixed drinks. A holiday-sized mixed
drink can have as many as 500 calories.

--Offer to bring a favorite low-calorie dish to holiday
parties. This way, you will know there will be at least one
"safe" choice available. Stand far away from buffets so you're
not tempted to nibble constantly.

--Make the effort to continue a regular exercise program.
Exercise will help keep extra calories away, and it can also
reduce the stress of social events and family
get-togethers.

--Don't go to a party on an empty stomach. Before going out,
snack on protein, like chicken or cottage cheese. Protein
satisfies and helps you eat less. "Some people have the idea
that if they skip lunch, or don't eat all day, they can eat
more later," says Politi. "But skipping meals means you're
hungry, and your chances of overeating later are much
greater."

--Keep an eye on portion sizes. In the heat of celebration,
portion sizes can be excessive. Instead of eating a large
amount of food, try to eat a large variety of foods.

--Don't let a hectic holiday schedule force you to eat fast
food. Prepare and freeze several quick, healthy meals. That
way, you have an option other than high-fat, fast-food
meals.

--When the party is at your house, put low-calorie and
fat-free salad dressings on the menu. Pack the table with
flavorful vegetable dishes and make reduced-fat versions of
your family's favorite traditional dishes.

--Make decisions about what you're going to eat. Weight
management is all about moderation and making healthy
decisions. "By focusing on portion control, by eating more
mindfully and being more in touch with what you eat, you'll
have good strategies to help you with weight control," says
Politi. "Moderation, not deprivation, should be the key for the
holidays."

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