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Timely tips for a healthier WNY holiday season

Holiday parties can bring plenty of nutritional temptations in the coming weeks. The trick to maintaining your weight is to balance your eating habits with your cheer, Independent Health Foundation Healthy Options nutritionist Shelby Braun says.


Braun encourages you to keep "SANTA" in mind once you arrive.

S – Survey the table: See what's available before you grab a plate and get in line, and choose thoughtfully what you'll eat and drink.

A – Add veggies and salad to your plate first: "Bulk up on those non-starchy carbohydrates, things that are going to add fiber and a lot of nutrients, but not a lot of calories."

N – No unnecessary foods: "Pick your absolute favorites – we can indulge a little – but we don't need to take every option on the table."

T – Time yourself: "Once you're done eating your first plateful, give yourself 10 minutes to see if you're actually full before heading up and grabbing more."

A – Avoid alcohol: Alcoholic beverages add empty calories. Six drinks at a party will pack on pounds and can lead to a host of other problems, too. If you do imbibe, alternate each alcoholic drink with water or herbal tea. It will help prevent overeating, Braun said. "As the months get colder, we tend to drink less water and get dehydrated. A lot of times we can mistake our cues for thirst as hunger cues."


Rather than a holiday party centered around food, pick another theme, like a walk in the neighborhood to see holiday displays. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Instead of a holiday party that involves cookie swaps or baking together, try one of these: A neighborhood walk to take in the holiday decorations: a craft party to make centerpieces, ornaments or wreaths; volunteering to serve food at a local soup kitchen; a game night.


– When making your gravy, cool it and skim the saturated fat off the top. This cuts fat by about 56 grams per cup, Braun said.

– Pack stuffing with more veggies – celery, onions, garlic, mushrooms – than bread. Consider sweetening it with apples or cranberries.

– Limit or avoid eating turkey skin. A 3-ounce serving of turkey with the skin removed is lower in fat by 11 grams. That's almost 100 calories less.

– Use evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream in recipes. The natural lactose sugars will still provide some sweetness to taste, Braun said.

– Choose your slice of dessert wisely. Pumpkin pie is about 300 calories a slice; apple pie, about 400 calories; and pecan pie a whopping 500 calories. Opt for pies without a top crust, and dress it with fresh fruit instead of whipped cream.


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