Tips to help dash away those extra holiday calories

With the holiday season upon us, some people are filled with the anticipation of spending time with loved ones, goodies galore and feasting on favorite dishes filled with extra holiday calories. Less welcome are the calories that those carb-laden meals and delicious candies carry.

West Virginia University Extension Service Family and Community Development Agent Dana Wright offers some tips to help people be proactive with holiday weight management skills.


“When preparing your holiday dishes, some simple ingredient swaps can transform your foods from high calorie to a healthier lower-calorie alternative. For instance, consider using low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in dishes like mashed potatoes and dressing, or substituting whole-grain ingredients in muffins and breads. Also, choosing low-fat cheeses, sour cream and milk ingredients are an easy way to cut back on unhealthy fat and calories. Rely on fresh herbs and spices to add flavor to your meats and dishes to cut down on salt intake but not the most important part—the savory taste.”

“We all look forward to the sweet treats that accompany the holiday season. Consider preparing cookies, candies and desserts using sugar-free alternatives, such as Splenda or Truvia. This will allow both diabetic and nondiabetic guests to enjoy something sweet.”

“Eating is as much a visual experience as a physical one. When we fill our meal plates, our minds are satisfied once we have eaten all our food. It doesn’t matter if you fill a 9-inch plate or a 13-inch plate, your brain will believe it is full after eating both. So, serve dinner on smaller plates. By shaving those extra inches off your plate, you can avoid adding inches to your waistline. Also, remember to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, which are low calorie and help keep hunger at bay.”

“Avoid the temptation to skip breakfast on the days you know you’re planning to eat a holiday meal. Starting the day off with a nutritious breakfast will prevent you from overeating at mealtime later in the day.”

“Savor the flavorful foods by eating slowly and mindfully, paying close attention to the sensations that each food produces. Take a break between dinner and dessert to give your stomach time to let your brain know if it needs more food.”

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