Here a nibble, there a nibble, everywhere a nibble ...
From Halloween until the end of play at the Super Bowl is often referred to as "the eating season." Adding a few extra pounds is easy to do. Spending time with family and friends is enjoyable, but most activities include seasonal foods that often are high in calories, sugar and fat.
But an invitation to a party or special event should not be considered an invitation to overeat, says Tanda Kidd, K-State Research and Extension nutrition and physical activity specialist. She offers the following tips to enjoy holiday foods without adding pounds.
Schedule regular meals and snacks during the holiday season. Eating lightly before a party or event can take the edge off the appetite and still leave room for sampling party foods but not overeating.
Make healthy snacks available, such as fruit, low-or reduced-fat cheeses, whole grain crackers or cut-up vegetables and low-calorie dip.
Store high-calorie foods out of sight.
Survey a buffet table before getting in line to choose foods.
The first bite introduces the flavor and texture of food, but will typically taste the same as the last bite. So, healthwise, there is an advantage to choosing the smallest, rather than the largest, serving on the buffet table.
Choose a smaller plate and a variety of foods.
Return a fork or spoon to the plate or bowl after each bite and chew slowly to enjoy the flavor and texture of the food.
Reduce temptation by choosing a seat well away from the buffet table.
Socialize by engaging in conversation or activities away from the food table. Wait 20-30 minutes after eating before considering a return trip to the buffet table.
If you're the one preparing food for a buffet or hosting a holiday party, have a variety of foods and make sure that low-fat and low-calorie foods are available.
Don't feel you should skip a favorite holiday food because it's not healthy. Enjoy family favorites and holiday foods in moderation. Choose small servings. Savor each bite and skip a second serving.
Choosing lower-fat versions of spreads, gravies and toppings can yield a calorie savings without significantly altering flavor. Cream cheese, sour cream, cheeses, evaporated milk and whipped topping all are available in lighter, lower fat, or fat-free versions.
If fatigue or stress is making you think about food, even though you're not hungry, consider an activity or a walk around the block, rather than a trip to the kitchen to add unnecessary calories. Chewing gum, sugar-free hard candy, or simply doing some exercises also can help to tame the temptation to rush for food.
Throughout the holiday season, be realistic. It's natural to want to enjoy holiday foods, yet sobering to consider the calories consumed. For example, a modest holiday dinner might include 3 ounces of skinless roast turkey; 1/2 cup mashed potatoes; 2 tablespoons of gravy; 1/2 cup green bean casserole; 1/2 cup honey-glazed carrots; one dinner roll with two teaspoons of soft margarine; relishes (including a stalk of celery, 1 ounce sweet pickle, 1 cinnamon-spiced apple ring, 1 tablespoon black olives, and 3 tablespoons jellied cranberry sauce); a slice of pumpkin pie with a tablespoon of whipped topping. This meal would have about 1,100 calories, 38 grams of fat, 150 grams carbohydrate and 40 grams of protein. A person weighing 154 pounds would need to walk about four hours (at 3 1/2 miles per hour) or jog for 2 hours (at 5 miles per hour) to burn all the calories consumed during this one meal. And these calculations don't include second helpings, and the extra salads, casseroles, and desserts found on most holiday tables!