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Family Times
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 • Posted December 9, 2009

10 Tips for Holiday Eating Without Weight Gain

Do you anticipate the holidays but dread the "inevitable" holiday weight gain? Do your holiday events revolve around food more than the meaning, people, presents, decorations, or travel? Eating mindfully and preventing holiday weight gain during the holidays can be a real challenge unless you have a strategy.

These 10 holiday eating tips will help you enjoy the season more while eating less.

1. It's easier to get distracted from signals of physical hunger and satiety at social gatherings, especially if food is the main event. Make an effort to pay close attention to your body’s signals.

2. Be a food snob. Skip the store-bought goodies, the dried-out fudge and the so-so stuffing. If the food you select doesn’t taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and choose something else. Think of howmuch less you’d eat if you only ate things that tasted fabulous! I really try to do this- a friend told me a few years ago that something was okay, but not good enough to "waste the calories on", and I try to remember this when I’m eating!

3. Ignore the old diet advice of "eat before you go to a party so you won’t be tempted." That’s just plain crazy! You want to be hungry enough to enjoy your favorites. Pace your eating prior to the event so you'll be hungry but not famished at mealtime.

4. Most people are food suggestible so socialize away from the sight of the food. I know every time I do a bake sale or concession stand I end up eating way more than I should, just because I am hanging out with all of that good food!

5. Survey all of the food at a buffet before making your choices. Choose the foods that you really want most and remind yourself that you can have the other foods another time, and go back through the line later with a small plate if you really still want it!

6. It’s common to have holiday treats lying all over the place this time of year. Grazing mindlessly leads to eating food that you won’t even remember. Eat mindfully by reducing distractions and sitting down to eat - even if it’s just a cookie. Appreciate the appearance and aroma of your food and savor one small bite at a time by putting your fork down. You’ll eat less food but enjoy it more.

7. Before overeating, pause and take a breath; ask "How do I want to feel when I’m finished?" This takes me back to all of the times I had to lay down in the car on the way home after eating at a fabulous buffet restaurant we went to once a week when I was in college. Not how you want to feel after a meal!

8. Be cautious of obligatory eating - eating just because it's on the table, on your plate, you paid for it, it's free, or someone made it for you. Deal with food pushers with a polite but firm, "No thank you."

If you’re concerned about hurting their feelings, ask for the recipe or a small portion to take home with you for another meal. You can always tell people what I get told a lot when I’m demonstrating a new recipe- "I’m sorry, I just finished eating!".

9. Don't use exercise as punishment for eating. Instead, look for opportunities to move more. For example, take a walk after dinner to enjoy the holiday lights, take a few laps around the mall before it opens to do some window shopping, or take guests to local attractions.

10. Most importantly, delight all of your senses. Enjoy the company, the atmosphere, the entertainment, and the traditions even more than the food.

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