How to enjoy, not ENJOY, those holiday party foods

EATING WELL

December 14, 1993|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

You can -- and dance your way through the holidays and emerge a New Year's svelte elf, instead of a national statistic, gaining 5 to 7 pounds by Jan. 2. Just follow these basic party do's and don'ts:

* DON'T skip meals. Saving up calories all day long to cover evening indulgences is a recipe for diet disaster. Arriving famished, then adding alcohol, sets you up for a binge.

* DO eat responsible meals all day long. You might eat a slightly lighter breakfast and lunch, but do eat. Indulge in a leafy green salad with fat-free dressing before you leave home. You'll arrive calm and relaxed, focused on friends and party fun, instead of focused on food.

* DON'T say you're on a diet. Well-meaning folks will pressure you to enjoy yourself by eating more.

* DO learn to happily and firmly say "Thank you, that was really delicious. I'm just stuffed." The folks will leave you alone.

* DON'T eat everything in sight. Lots of party food isn't really that good, or it's food you can get all year long. Skip the cheese and crackers. Dodge the nut dish. Avoid chips and dip. Sidestep the olives.

* DO choose carefully. Pick mouth-watering treats unique to the season. Pay attention while you're eating. Enjoy the look, color, taste and texture of every morsel.

* DON'T let food go to waist (yours). Try to resist the urge to clean your plate, doggie bag the leftovers and recycle the dregs at the office, unless the food is really good and worth the calories.

* DO stop eating when you're not hungry any more. Leave food on your plate if it's not really delicious or if you've had enough. Depart the party empty-handed, unless there's something you really want. When party-goers leave food behind, party-givers start making less.

If "host pressure" forces you to take unwanted leftovers, trash them when you get out of sight. Stuffing yourself with excess food is worse than wasting it. You'll wear it around your waist for years to come.

Palming it off on your workmates is not a solution. They don't need to wear it either.

* DON'T stop exercising. Time crunch is a poor excuse to give up the look better, feel better, keep-the-weight-off activity you've been enjoying all year.

* DO add seasonal fun to your usual exercise program. Dance your way through all those parties.

Between events, gather friends to go ice skating, either indoors or out. Go sledding with the kids if there's a little snow. Head for the mountains to ski -- try cross-country as well as downhill. Go caroling with a group. Or just go for a nighttime walk around your neighborhood to enjoy the lights and decorations.

This is the season for wonderful food. Pick the best and leave the rest. And get a move on.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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