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Monongahela Valley Hospital's Tips to Weigh Your Holiday Choices

(October 18, 2011 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

It's autumn and that means that the holidays are approaching quickly. They might already be here if every time the Steelers play it's a celebration at your house where friends and family gather for fun and the four-letter "f" word - food. Everyone has a favorite seasonal snack that helps to make your gatherings special. Sometimes, it's a recipe that has been in your family for generations or it could be a new addition to your menu that you can’t wait to try.

With all of the delicious snacks and foods that will be tempting you during the next few months (not to mention all of the Halloween candy that is in great abundance and everywhere you turn), what can you do to avoid the "after-holiday guilt" and those extra pounds that may follow?

"So many of us think that eating healthy means being deprived of those foods that we truly enjoy," said Michele Pfarr, clinical nutrition manager at Monongahela Valley Hospital. "Most times, you really can have your cake and eat it too - perhaps just a smaller portion. I try to teach clients how to eat healthier overall so that they have powerful skills that can be used at anytime."

Ms. Pfarr recommends these six tips to help you make your way through the coming holiday season without picking up extra pounds.

  1. Eat something before you go out or before your guests arrive. Most people find that when they eat a small, healthy snack prior to the celebration it helps to keep them from consuming too many tempting party treats.
  2. Portion sizes count. It's not always what you eat, but how much of it you eat that adds up. Try sampling smaller portions.
  3. Step away from the food. Does everyone at your gatherings tend to linger by the food? Try to put as much space between yourself and the buffet table as possible then you won't be tempted to nibble all afternoon or evening.
  4. Modify recipes. Just because the recipe for an appetizer includes a cup of sour cream, it doesn't mean that you cannot substitute a cup of low-fat sour cream. Your guests won't notice the difference.
  5. Take a walk. A brisk walk is a great way to burn calories, plus it may help to suppress your appetite.
  6. Request a safe "doggie bag or the recipe." If you try a new holiday treat and just cannot get enough of it, ask for a small portion to take home or ask the hostess for the recipe so that you can make it at home - and even modify the ingredients to make it healthier.

For more information, visit the Health Library and then choose "Nutrition."

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