Extension offers advice to avoid gaining weight over the holidays

Christmas conjures up images of beautifully decorated trees, presents, houses covered in lights, sugar plums, cookies, candies and meals with friends and family. According to University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Professor of Nutrition Rosemary Rodibaugh, Americans typically gain one to two pounds over the holidays.

Rodibaugh offers several tips on how to avoid packing on extra holiday pounds. She says first to not skip meals. Skipping meals will likely lead to overindulging the next time you eat. Instead, eat small portions of foods low in calories and high in fiber and moisture such as fruits, vegetables, salads or broth-based vegetable soups. These foods will help you feel full so you won’t snack on less healthy foods while waiting for a meal.

Rating hunger is another method. If thinking about hunger on a scale of zero to ten, where zero is really hungry and ten is uncomfortably full, stop eating when you no longer feel hungry, or at about five on the hunger scale. Don’t keep eating until you feel full, or about a seven or eight on the scale, because by then, you have already over-eaten.

Using smaller plates is a good idea. Instead of filling a dinner plate, try using a salad plate. Take small portions of foods you generally only have during the holidays and skip the foods available all year round. It's advised to not go back for seconds.

Be mindful of the calories you drink. Beverages with alcohol, fruit juices and cream are popular at holiday gatherings and can contribute a lot of calories. If you choose such a beverage, ask for a small portion then switch to water, sparkling water or other calorie-free drinks such as diet soda.

Don’t leave holiday treats sitting around in plain sight. You are a lot more likely to eat foods that are plainly visible. Cookies and candy left out where you see them every time you walk by are hard to resist and those calories soon add up.

Stay active. Make sure you are physically active during the holidays to help burn any extra calories you consume. Continue your normal work-out regimen as much as possible, walk with family, friends or your dog, and get up and move around during commercials and half-time of the football games you watch.

For more information on healthy eating and lifestyles visit www.uaex.edu or contact your county Extension office.

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