November through January boasts a plethora of holidays — most of which are well known and celebrated all over.

Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s typically involve parties and gatherings that oftentimes take us away from our own dinner table.

Everyone, even family, tends to celebrate differently; however, with a little thought and planning, you can rejoice in the season, regardless of the venue and the menu.

Survival Tip #1: Forgo “saving” yourself for that special holiday meal.

Skipping meals before the holiday feast with the intent to “save” calories typically results in consuming more food at the celebration. When you are starving, it becomes difficult to make healthy choices, and the body craves sugar and fat to instantly suppress the hunger pangs.

Smaller, more frequent meals enhance metabolism and curb binging on holiday treats. A great plan of action is to begin the day by eating a healthy breakfast, complete with protein and complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal with almonds or hard boiled eggs and fruit.

About one to two hours before the gathering, have a light snack along with a bottle of water to take the edge off your appetite and keep your blood sugar in check.

Survival Tip #2: Offer to Bring a Healthy Dish to Holiday Parties

When appropriate, ask the party host ahead of time if you can bring a dish. The selection of unhealthy foods served can be irresistible and by bringing a healthy dish, you can plan to be worry-free at the gathering knowing there is something wholesome available to eat.

Additionally, the party host will likely appreciate the kind act. Ideas include a vegetable platter with hummus, seasonal fruit salad or baked tortilla chips and salsa.

Survival Tip #3: Have a Plate Plan

Before filling your plate, devise a “plan of attack.” Begin by taking a smaller plate (if available) and scout out your favorite dishes. Browse the food selection to find out what you really want and what you can pass up without feeling deprived. Fill your small plate to the rim if you desire — you will have to dish up less per serving.

Additionally, try to follow the “tablespoon rule” and only serve up about a tablespoon of your favorite holiday splurge dishes onto your plate.

For buffet-style holiday meals, avoid the temptation of returning for seconds by sitting as far away from your favorite foods as possible.

Part Two will run in next week’s Harker Heights Herald.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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