Control your weight over the holidays

KINGMAN - When I think of the holidays, some of the first things that come to mind are being with family and friends - and of course, FOOD.

This is typically the time when I loosen my belt (literally) and let the "diet" fall by the wayside.

The downhill slide seems to start with the first few pieces of Halloween candy I sneak from the jar in the employee lounge or from the kid's candy sack.

Next is the glorious holiday of Thanksgiving, when I fill myself as full as I stuffed the turkey.

This cycle continues all the way to the New Year, when I vow to stick to my diet next year, and make a resolution to lose the 10-20 pounds I recently gained.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

This was my pattern until I developed some tricks for dealing with the holidays in a food-friendly fashion.

I decided to tackle each holiday as it came, the first, of course, being Halloween.

As you sift through the candy jar, replace some of the higher-calorie treats with those that are not so spooky. Instead of a Butterfinger Fun Size (85 calories), have two Hershey's kisses with peanut butter (49 calories); replace one M&M's fun pack (90 calories) with two Rolos (55 calories); instead of a Blow Pop (60 calories), have two Dum Dum Pops (51 calories); and substitute two rolls of Smarties (50 calories) instead of one Skittles Fun Size (90 calories).

Then the leaves are falling off the trees, there is a bit of chill in the air, and you find yourself shopping for the perfect bird.

Wondering how many pounds you need to feed 13 people? Here are some tips to trimming the Thanksgiving fat.

Try using an 8-ounce container of fat-free sour cream instead of a stick of butter to make your potatoes rich and creamy.

You save yourself and family members more than 600 calories and 90 grams of fat.

And once the delicious turkey is served, choose the breast meat and toss the skin. This saves about 45 calories and 6 grams of fat for a 5-ounce serving.

Don't forget to load up on the vegetables and go easy on the starches, like rolls and stuffing.

Make your pumpkin pie go the extra mile by serving 8-10 people with one pie instead of only 6, and using cool whip instead of whipped cream will save on the calories.

If the weather permits get the family outside for a walk or a game of tag or touch football.

In 40-50 minutes you could burn approximately 200 calories or the piece of turkey you ate.

I found this holiday most challenging. There are no sit-down dinners where you can control your portions, only a smorgasbord of Hors d'oeuvres and finger foods.

Each bite counts, so look for options like raw vegetables, fruits and cheeses, sampling only a few appetizers.

The best tip I have is to take it easy on the alcohol. This is where you can save yourself hundreds of calories and possibly from an embarrassing moment in front of your boss at the holiday party.

One 12-ounce beer is about 150 calories; one 5-ounce glass of wine is about 125 calories; five ounces of champagne has about 100 calories; 1-1/2 ounces of liquor packs about 100 calories, and don't forget the mixer adds more calories.

These tips are perfect for Christmas, Hanukkah or any other dinner, and we will have made to New Year's Eve and your clothes still fit!

I hope these tips can help you stay on track while enjoying yourselves. Happy holidays and bon appetite!