During the holidays, home cooks fix all those family recipes that they associate with the season, and a few new recipes as well.
We buy more butter, flour, sugar, cream, and sour cream now than at any other time of the year. We use pounds of pecans and walnuts and prepare cheese balls and eggnog. We fix pies, cakes, and homemade candy.
We get gifts of candy or cheese or fresh-fruit baskets. And everything tastes so good.
Don t obsess about those once-a-year recipes. Even if you re watching your weight, you can enjoy the flavors of the season. Simply pace yourself to enjoy a taste of your favorites. And enjoy every bite.
I think that few people gain weight from home-cooked meals. But they do gain weight if they eat heartily at every party they attend especially if there are several events in a day. Over-eating, large portions, and second and third helpings catch up with us all.
Not only should folks pace themselves at parties, they should also watch the restaurant meals they order and eat, and what they buy at the supermarket.
Holiday parties: If you have appetizers at the next holiday party, holding on to your toothpicks helps you count the number of hors d oeuvres you are eating.
That advice is from Chow Line, a publication of Ohio State University. If you are trying to plan ahead and take steps to prevent weight gain from parties and holiday dinners, keep track of how many appetizers you ve eaten.
If only counting toothpicks made it that simple.
There are plenty of tips, from using a smaller plate to help with portion control, to eating a high-fiber snack an hour before the party to help you feel full.
Don t starve yourself the day of the party. Eat light but regular meals to keep your metabolism charged up.
When attending a potluck, bring a vegetable or fruit tray with a low-fat dip. After eating, sit away from the food table so temptation is not at your fingertips. Focus on socializing. Share conversation, not an extra dessert.
Drink water between meals.
Avoid your trigger foods. Everyone has something he or she can t stop eating mine is salty, thin, crisp potato chips.
Try to walk by foods you can t resist.
When making holiday cookies, make them smaller, even bite-size. Store them in the freezer or in a container stored high in the cupboard. Share homemade cookies with friends and neighbors.
Dining out: In a restaurant, eat as much salad as you like, but go easy on the dressing. Decline the bread or the dessert. Choose a protein such as chicken, fish, or beef with a side of steamed vegetables. Pass up the potatoes, especially french fries.
Sometimes the entrees are big enough to split, although some restaurants frown on this and add an extra charge for shared plates.
Sometimes friends order an array of appetizers to share around the table. Some appetizers are as filling as a small entree.
Supermarket aisles: When grocery shopping, read the labels, especially when buying frozen food products and processed foods. It s amazing how high in calories, carbohydrates, fat, and sugar some of them are.
Cook as much as you can from scratch. Use less oil, butter, and high calorie ingredients. Watch the frozen food and processed foods. Select lower calorie items. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less snack foods.
Cut back on sugar, syrup, and high-calorie condiments. Reduce the portions. But, enjoy those home- cooked meals.
These tips will help you breeze through the holidays to the New Year. Eat fewer calories, save some money, and gain less weight.