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Navigating holiday eats
Experts offer up tips for healthy eating

Trying to navigate your way through the holiday party season without gaining too much weight? It's not an impossible feat. It's all about the choices you make.

For starters, never go to a party hungry, recommended Fiona Golden, an American Council of Exercise-certified personal trainer with One on One Fitness Works in Conyers. If you haven't eaten much - or eaten at all - the day of a holiday party, you are likely to overindulge, said Golden. If the party is in the evening, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, she said. If you're hungry, eat snacks that are good for you.

Wendy Pippin, clinical nutrition manager at Rockdale Medical Center, agreed.

"No skipping meals," she said. "You can't skip lunch because you're going out to dinner."

Holiday party goers should also pay attention to portion sizes, said Pippin. Smaller portions means fewer calories are consumed.

Golden also urged people to slow down their eating time, allowing the body enough time to tell the brain that the stomach is full.

"You can enjoy yourself at a party without overindulging by eating smaller portions and eating slower," said Golden.

Another way to avoid gaining weight during the holidays is to focus on eating health, said Golden. Consider the foods to avoid, such as those high in carbohydrates, and head for the ones that are better for the body - a vegetable tray or salad plate, for example. Golden suggested not standing around the buffet when socializing with others.

"Try to move the conversation away from the table," she said.

Eating healthy at the holidays also means being conservative when it comes to alcohol consumption. According to the American Psychiatric Association Web site, one glass of alcohol a day for most adult women and two for men is acceptable.

Golden advised drinking plenty of water the day of a holiday party to prevent dehydration.

"If you are thirsty, you may drink more alcohol or sodas than you normally would - all of which are high in calories," she said.

Another way to keep the calories down at the holidays is to exercise. Exercise, even a brisk walk, can help a person manage stress during the holidays.

"Try to schedule in at least one hour of exercise per day," Golden said.

For those who desperately want to fit into a holiday outfit that is too small, Golden recommends avoiding crash diets. Crash diets cause people to gain more weight after the initial loss, she said.

"Successful weight loss is a healthy lifestyle, which involves eating right and exercising all the time," said Golden.

Barbara Merchant is a freelance writer. If you have a feature story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com