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The Right Choices: How to Keep Those Holiday Pounds At Bay

Author: Terri D’Arrigo
Source: Diabetes Forecast, November 2007

The holidays are coming, and it’s time to celebrate. Friends, family, parties, concerts, shipping, decorating – all combine to make this the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the five, six or seven pounds that appear afterward that we could do without. The season doesn’t have to be fattening, however. With a little planning, you can enjoy all of the festivities without sacrificing your waistline.

Don’t deprive yourself. In an effort to keep the pounds at bay during the holidays, you might be tempted to skip lunch in anticipation of what you’ll eat at a party later. The trouble is that by the time you get to the party, you’ll be famished. That’s not good for either your blood glucose or your willpower, says Kerry Warner-Williams, RD, LD, CDE, staff dietitian at Clarian Health Partners in Indianapolis. “Going to a get together really hungry can set you up for consuming too much too quickly,” she says.

Practice portion control. This is the only time of the year that Aunt Louise makes her famous turkey dressing, and it wouldn’t feel right not too have some. That’s fine, but keep it in moderation, says Warner-Williams. “Remember that a serving is half a cup, not half a plate,” she says. “By keeping portion sizes in mind, you can keep your total consumption reasonable.”

Go easy on the booze. Warner-Williams notes the double-edged sword of alcohol: Too many drinks will both add extra calories to your intake and lower your inhibitions at the buffet. When you do drink, and you’re choosing between a glass of wine or beer and a mixed drink, it’s a safer, more calorically conscious bet to go with the wine or beer. “If you do prepare mixed drinks, look for calorie-free mixes, and watch out for sweet, fruity concoctions,” she says. “You can drink 1,000 calories in one pina colada.”

Hit the kitchen. One of the challenges of attending a party or family gathering is not knowing what’s in the food laid out before you. A seemingly simple dessert may in fact contain calorie-dense ingredients like butter or be loaded with several teaspoons of sugar per serving. “If you prepare and bring a dish to share, at least you know what’s in it, and there’s something available that you know is appropriate for you,” says Warner-Williams. This is particularly important if you have diabetes and take insulin because of the way you must balance carbohydrate intake with insulin.

Forgive yourself. If you’re having a great time catching up with family and friends at the table, it’s easy to slip and overdo it. Don’t beat yourself up about it, says Warner-Williams. “It’s over, it’s done. Just don’t get to thinking that you blew it for the whole day.” Instead, go back to your plan the moment you recognize the slip. The bright side? If you can get back on message, you can give yourself the gift of a trimmer you for 2008.