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Holiday Partying Without Gaining Weight

By Dr. Victor Gong, Medical Director of 75th St. & 126th St. Medical, Ocean Pines Medical & Doctors Weight Control & Wellness centers, Ocean City, MD.

Holidays are traditionally joyful times celebrated with lots of friends and wonderfully fattening food. Between the months of Thanksgiving and New Years, many people will gain an average of eigth pounds. Festive occasions, however, don't have to mean the end of your weight loss program. Nutritious and low calorie holiday meals are not impossible if you plan ahead. Here are some practical tips you can use to enjoy your holidays when celebrating with family and friends.

Focus on Maintaining Weight, Not Losing Pounds

The pressures of dieting to lose weight adds to the stress of an already stressful season. A better strategy is to set achievable goals. Your more likely to stick to your plan and succeed if you set your expectations more realistically. Aim to maintain your weight or minimize weight gain, say 1 - 3 pounds during the holiday.

Focus on Other Activities

Instead of making dinner the main event, try emphasizing games, singing, an expedition or conversation. Celebrating with friends and family is the real purpose of these days, not just the food.

Eat One Meal

Since most holiday meals are served as "dinner", enjoy it as dinner and then stop eating, instead of snaking throughout the evening. We normally don't continue eating all evening, so don't treat a holiday meal any differently. Drink plenty of water and eat a low calorie snack prior to the party.

Plan Ahead

Plan what you will be eating in advance. You may want to write out a personal menu including portion sizes and calories. Be realistic - you are not going to enjoy three carrot sticks while everyone else eats turkey with all the trimmings. A well planned personal menu will help you avoid overeating.

Exercise

Even though it is a holiday, try to allow yourself time for exercise. Planning a walk with family or friends after dinner is a good idea. If you happen to eat more than you planned, try to burn the calories off with an extra workout.

Reduce Fat and Calories

Try planning a tradional but reduced calorie meal. Limit your alchol intake. It adds no nutritional value to your diet and lessens your inhibitions to control what you are consuming.

You can enjoy a holiday meal without excessive calorie intake. With reasonable portion sizes and some simple substitutions, you can easily keep a traditional style dinner under 700 calories. If you are not cooking and have only high calorie choices, you can lessen your calorie intake by pre-planning: choose samller portions; cut back on calories the day before and the day after the holiday; and be sure to get plenty of exercise.

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