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Go lean this holiday

Happy holidays and happy eating go hand in hand. Unfortunately, if a person is not careful, this combination can lead to some unhappy pounds.

"The big challenge is to have fun at special occasions without jeopardizing your body weight," said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service nutrition specialist. "It's just as important to keep within your healthy weight range at the holidays as it is at other times."

Achieving a healthy body weight for most people does not just happen; it takes commitment, strategy and perseverance.

During the holiday season, when the environment is saturated with food and temptations are great, the ideal situation for gaining weight is formed and a person's main goal should be to modify eating behaviors to prevent weight gain.

Some behavioral techniques include self-monitoring through food records, moderation, eating slowly, alternative activities, preplanning, increasing physical activity, goal setting and good nutrition, Hermann said.

The day that you attend the party, think ahead on your caloric intake. Eat lightly at other meals and balance the calories and fat in your party food.

"An example might be to have whole-wheat toast, low-fat milk and fruit for breakfast; a salad with low-fat dressing, a whole-grain roll and nonfat or low-fat yogurt for lunch and a piece of fruit for a snack," Hermann said.

Preplanning the day's eating pattern will allow for more choices at the event.

"When you are at a party, choose foods that you don't have the chance to eat all year long," she said. "Don't waste your calories on potato chips, chocolate chip cookies and cheese platters--those are available year-around."

Physical activity is a very important behavioral change and walking is a recommended activity for all individuals.

Hermann suggests going for a walk for 10 or 15 minutes may assist in relieving the stress that builds up during this season and may prevent one from using food as a stress-coping mechanism.

"These 10 to 15 minutes will burn up energy and may help relieve the consumption of additional food. It will help burn off extra calories, tone muscles and work off holiday stress and strains," she said

It takes time to instill permanent eating behavior changes and it is important to select those that will lead to success.

"Select behavioral changes that will be easy to incorporate into your lifestyle and holiday tradition," Hermann said. "Maintaining your weight during the holiday season is one gift that is sure to make you happy."


Date: 12/31/08

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