Trident Health System December 15, 2016

Andy Brewer, MS, RD, LD, Trident Medical Center

North Charleston, SC – As a registered dietitian Trident Medical Center's Andy Brewer, MS, RD, LD knows the challenges many people have in trying to balance enjoying the holiday season and enjoying the meals and snacks that are often associated with one of the most festive times of the year. In the following article he describes a sensible plan to get the most out of the season without the often unwanted holiday weight gain.

Fall is in full swing, with cold weather on its way and the holidays just around the corner. Work schedules are getting tight as plans are being made. Families excited to see one another after a long tiresome year. It's no wonder the season is called the best time of the year.

The holidays have always been notorious for over-indulgence with the expectation of starting fresh in the New Year. The average American gains one to two pounds during the holiday season and continues to carry that over into the next year. With a few mindful suggestions and a watchful eye, however, it's not impossible to enjoy the holiday festivities and maintain a healthy weight. Here are a few tips to get your started.

When revising an old recipe for a party or event, take a look at the essential ingredients and decide where certain-higher calorie items can be eliminated or reduced. For example, does the dish really need two cups of sugar or three sticks of butter? It may taste just the same with half those amounts. Try it out. The results might just surprise you.

Substituting higher-calorie ingredients with lower-calorie ones is another simple way to eliminate unwanted calories. Switching from whole milk to skim milk is one way to trim down some calories. Trying a sugar substitute like Splenda, Truvia or Agave Nectar instead of regular cane sugar is another possible strategy. There are plenty of other ways as well. All it takes is a little experimenting.

Another idea for preventing weight gain during the holiday season is to practice portion control. It can be hard to resist the temptation of so many well-made dishes at a holiday party, but those calorie -dense options can add up fairly quickly. Taking small helpings of each item provides variety and leaves room for other dishes so you don't feel left out. Saving items for the next day is another way to remain in the holiday spirit by stretching out the festivities a little further. Both of these give you the opportunity to enjoy holiday dishes while maintaining your weight through the New Year.

Being mindful of recipe ingredients, portion control and timing of food intake can stop holiday weight gain in its tracks, without leaving you feeling deprived. Give these recommendations a try this year, and see how just a few minor changes can keep you on the right path into the New Year.