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by Susan Rodder, M.S., Clinical Instructor and Registered Dietitian, UT Southwestern Medical Center

The holidays are here, and so is the tempting food!

Special holiday foods constitute part of the holiday tradition, but there is no need to panic or give in to every temptation. Rather, keep holiday eating in perspective with the following tips.

  • This is not the time to go on a diet, but don’t let the holiday season be your free pass to eat anything and everything in sight. Moderate your indulgences so that you satisfy your desire to celebrate without impacting your long-term health.
  • Plan ahead by anticipating what foods you may be served at holiday parties. This thought process will allow you to adjust your day’s overall consumption so that you eat fewer calories at your other meals. For example, have a high-fiber cereal for breakfast and a salad for dinner if the office luncheon is laden with high-calorie goodies.
  • Choose to spend your calories on unique foods available only during the holidays, such as Grandma’s pumpkin pie or Mom’s cornbread stuffing. Avoid high-calorie, everyday items like chips, cheese and crackers, and breads.
  • Don’t arrive starved. To help curb your appetite, eat a low-calorie, high-fiber food (such as a small salad, carrot sticks, or an apple) before you head out the door.
  • Be the slowest eater by starting last and finishing last. Concentrate on your conversations, the atmosphere, and overall festivities rather than on what you are eating. If food is served buffet-style, make only one trip through the line and use a smaller plate if available.
  • Drink less alcohol. For most people, alcohol stimulates appetite, so order your drink closer to when the main meal is served or have a nonalcoholic “spacer,” such as mineral water, between alcoholic beverages.
  • Keep perspective. One day’s indiscretions should not become your excuse to eat whatever you want until January 1, 2015. The day after the office holiday party, pack your lunch, and don’t forget to exercise!

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