Handling the holiday food temptations

The holidays are here, and for many, that may mean family get-togethers, meeting up with friends and possibly even things going on at work - usually all of which revolve around food.

There is no need to panic about attending parties or other gatherings that involve a buffet of food. A little planning can help you be prepared to handle any temptations or stressful situations.

During certain times of the year (such as around holidays), there may be many parties and special events you can attend. Try to choose the events that are most important to you. If you are worried about losing control around tasty treats, you can find a friend to go with you. Look for a friend who may also be watching what they eat to lose weight. This way, you can keep each other on track.

Be aware of your triggers. For example, are you expecting your favorite food item to be served? Do you lack control when you're by a buffet table? Plan on setting a limit of one serving or bite of your favorite food.

You can also plan on staying away from the buffet table after you have filled your plate (with smaller portions and the healthiest food items available, of course). Once you have your plate of food, pace yourself. Take time to savor what you're eating and allow time for your brain to know that you're full.

If stress from special events causes you to give in to temptation, try taking time out for yourself. You can take a walk, a relaxing bath or read a chapter of a good book.

Try to avoid panicking about parties. It's possible to enjoy yourself without overindulging - if you take time to be prepared.

Here is another tip to help you cope with your upcoming holiday. As you start going through your treasured family recipes or are going through your favorite cookbooks, remember that substituting food items with lower fat or fat-free varieties can really make a difference. Making simple substitutions in your daily meals and recipes can make significant reductions in your calorie intake.

Here are some examples of how many calories you can save substituting lower fat products for high fat ones: 1) One cup skim milk instead of 1 cup whole milk saves 60 calories; 2) Substituting 8 egg whites for 4 whole eggs saves 188 calories; 3) Using nonstick cooking spray instead of oil or butter saves 135 calories per tablespoon; 4) Removing the skin from a 5-ounce portion of chicken or turkey saves 360 calories; 5) Using plain, nonfat yogurt instead of cream in recipes saves over 700 calories; 6) Using plain, nonfat yogurt instead of mayonnaise in dressing recipes save over 480 calories per one-third cup; and 7) Using 1 cup of a non-calorie sweetener in place of 1 cup of sugar saves 960 calories. Even though sugar is a fat-free ingredient, look how many calories making that simple little substitution can save.

Start making these simple little changes now, so that as you are preparing those family favorites, it will become second nature to use low-fat and fat-free ingredients. Don't make the mistake of thinking, "I have cut out a whole bunch of calories, now I can eat as much as I want." Watch those serving sizes.

Making small substitutions can make a big difference in the amount of calories you consume. It's a little change that can make a significant impact on your weight.

For more healthy tips for the holidays or year-round, call me at (928) 753-5066.