It’s the holiday eating season — beware!

Published 8:27 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

Traditionally, the month of November means the opening of eating season. It’s true. Buffets, teas, luncheons, parties, potlucks and cookie swaps, Oh MY! It’s enough to make your head spin and your waist expand.

Dips, desserts, drinks, loaded with so much fat and sugar, that the average weight gain from November 1 – December 31 is about 5 pounds. Doesn’t sound like much, but how hard did you work to lose 5 pounds? And if you don’t take it off, then you add to it in the next year…….. Don’t let all that hard work you have put in through the year fly out the window.

Here is some sound advice to make it through this most treacherous time of the year.

  1. Shop Smart. Plan your menu to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream.
  1. Start the Party on a Light Note. Most appetizers tend to be loaded with calories. And it is so easy to over eat them before the meal. Make it easier on your guests by offering light and satisfying appetizers. For tempting yet healthy appetizers, offer shrimp cocktails, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese, vegetables with a low-fat yogurt dip, or fresh fruit skewers.

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Light and Easy Does It. Add more simple vegetable and fruit dishes to your menu instead of heavy dishes with sauces. Your guests will fill up on healthy fiber without lots of extra calories. For example, green bean almondine with a squeeze of lemon is healthier than traditional green bean casserole. Simple peas or corn are healthier than creamed peas or corn. But if you must have casserole, use low-fat soup, increase the veggies, and top it with a crunchy whole-grain cereal instead of fried onions.

  1. Shave Calories With Simple Swaps. Create healthier versions of your holiday favorites by shaving calories wherever you can. Simple swaps of lower-fat ingredients are easy ways to save calories — and no one will even notice the difference. Use low sodium chicken stock, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese, and low-fat milk in place of high-fat ingredients. Substitute non-fat yogurt or applesauce for oil in baked goods.
  1. Go Easy on the Alcohol. Offer guests an alternative to high calorie/high sugar alcohol based drinks. Unsweetened tea, sparkling water, or low cal punch.

Attending a party and not doing the cooking? Have a healthy snack and a large glass of water before leaving home. Don’t walk in famished, or that will lead you to overeating. Find the healthiest choices, raw vegis, fruits, cheeses and lean meats. Of course you will be tempted to indulge in the tasty array of sweets, don’t deny yourself. However, have a bite, not the whole cookie. Find someone to share with and just have a taste. Don’t graze, have a bit to eat then step away from the food area. Tomorrow, get back to your regular healthy eating and fitness routine.

A little planning, a little determination and you can get through the eating season relatively unscathed. Cheers! Here’s to healthy living!

Jody Holton is marketing director of the YMCA of Southeast Texas. Contact her at