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Health & Balance

Healthy Holiday Eating

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WebMD Feature from "Health"

By Amanda Gavlik

Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean your healthy eating habits have to do the same.

The season for savory dishes has arrived, but maintaining nutritious eating habits shouldn’t be daunting. Take these ideas from Elisabetta Politi, R.D., nutrition manager at Duke University Diet and Fitness, and you might find the happy medium between being a diehard dieter and a guiltless gorger.

Say so long to strict rules

Politi says people who are ultra-strict about their diet during the holidays generally don’t enjoy the celebration and tend to rebound later. “When January comes and everyone starts their New Year’s resolutions, those people who have done really well through the holidays tend not to be highly motivated.”

Prepare and set goals for gatherings

Eat a snack before you head to Aunt Betty’s infamous afternoon feast. If you take the edge off of your appetite, you’ll be less likely to overindulge on the mouthwatering dishes. When you get there, try to keep track of your calorie intake. One goal Politi recommends is limiting alcohol intake to one beverage and drinking sparkling or seltzer water during the event. Think in terms of calorie comparisons, too. A serving of eggnog packs 251 calories, while a serving of spiced cider has 128 calories. Choose the cider, and with just one beverage serving, you’ve cut 123 calories from your day's caloric total.

Remember portion control

At celebrations, especially those with buffets, Politi advises, “take a look at what’s being offered before deciding what to put on your plate.” When making your plate, Politi suggests this ratio: 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 grains. “Most of the volume on your plate is taken by vegetables, which tend to be lower in calories. Of course, you want vegetables that are not cooked with a lot of fat,” Politi says. If you’d rather not make a heaping plate of food once in the day, she also recommends the alternative of eating small portions frequently to avoid being overly hungry at any point.

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