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To Your Health

To Your HealthTurkey is a healthier choice than other standard fare like rib roast or honeyed ham.

During the holidays, from Thanksgiving to Mardi Gras, most people confess to gaining about five pounds every year. But according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average person gains only one pound over the holidays—but never loses it. That could add up to 10 pounds every 8 to 10 years that we could all avoid. So take advantage of some of the tried-and-true strategies below and you can survive the holidays with your waistline intact!

1. Weigh Yourself
If you know your starting point, or the range that you want to maintain, this will give you a clear picture from the beginning. Try to weigh once a week, on Fridays if possible, before the weekend begins.

2. Balance and Moderation
If you are eating more, exercise more. Add a 20-minute walk to the day, especially after those big meals. And use moderation in your eating. You don’t have to pass up your favorite carrot cake, but try smaller portions or share a piece —and always skip seconds.

3. Eat Before You Go
Holiday parties always offer the most tempting foods, so instead of arriving famished, have a small serving of a healthy, filling food before you go. A handful of almonds, cheese and crackers, or a small yogurt will take the edge off your hunger.

4. Choose Wisely
Alcohol can quickly add unwanted calories to your holiday plans. Try starting the party with a club soda or diet drink. Then alternate non-alcoholic choices with your favorite libation to insure party survival. Note: Wine instead of beer will save you 50 calories per glass. And at 320 calories per serving, skip the eggnog all together!

5. Have the Turkey
Turkey is a healthier choice than other standard fare like rib roast or honeyed ham that can add an additional 150 calories per serving. And choosing white turkey meat over dark meat will save you another 50 calories. And don’t forget dessert: choosing pound cake or angel food over pecan pie will save you another 350 calories.

6. Watch the Fats
Stuffings and casseroles with rich sauces are always anticipated during the holidays, but can be high in saturated fats. Choose wild or brown rice dishes over potatoes and pastas and steer away from the heavy cream and cheese sauces. Try the cranberry relish instead of the gravy boat.

7. Where are You?
When you go to a party or attend a holiday meal, where do you end up spending your time? Don’t hang out at the buffet table, grazing through your conversations. Instead, head to another room and concentrate on the people around you. At holiday meals, offer to help in the kitchen, but don’t stay and nibble.

8. Hidden Sodium
Especially at holiday time, we are inundated with salt in our food. Salt is packed into the sauces, gravies and dips. To maintain a healthy diet, we should hold our sodium intake to 2,000 to 2,300 milligrams a day. If you are doing the cooking, leave the salt in the cupboard and put the shaker on the table. When attending parties and holiday meals, look for non-processed choices and fresh food like fruit salads or vegetable trays—and skip the (salty) dip.

The holiday season is for enjoying family and friends. Armed with a little information and motivation, we can all hope to survive the parties and parades wearing the same pair of our favorite jeans.

Billy Katz and Hudson Ellis are the co-owners of Simply Fit gyms, located throughout the metro New Orleans area. Please email your health and fitness questions to them by going to simplyfitgym.com.

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