KUSA - Cookie swaps, catered lunches, buffet tables brimming with treats: many of us celebrate the holidays by sharing food. Don't let the season to be a reason to overdo it, though.
Follow these nine strategies from Katie Ferraro, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.E., nutrition expert for TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, to keep the season bright - and light.
1. Fill up first. Have a healthy snack before hitting the holiday party scene. You will likely make wiser choices when you're not famished.
2. Go easy at the get-go. Holiday appetizers are calorie "minefields." Select one tempting starter and then stick to shrimp, vegetables, and fruit before the main course.
3. Bring your own. Stressing about what to eat at a holiday gathering? Volunteer to bring your own healthy dish that can double as a host or hostess gift.
4. Consider cauliflower. Cauliflower can stretch the starchiest of dishes. When planning an appetizer, look for cauliflower mashed potatoes, pizza, and torte crusts, and even cookie recipes online.
5. Swap and save. Substitute low-fat yogurt, milk, cream cheese, mayonnaise, chicken stock, and eggnog for high-fat recipe ingredients.
6. Get a gravy separator. Make your gravy "lean and mean." Use a gravy separator to separate juices from fat, saving calories while concentrating flavor.
7. Do winter fruit desserts. There's no need for high-fat desserts when winter fruits are in season. Oranges, kiwis, and persimmons are a great finale for healthy holiday meals.
8. Mingle more and linger less. Make the rounds at holiday meals, try not to hang around the buffet table, and limit second helpings to the healthiest fruit and vegetable dishes.
9. Put your fork down. It's a time-tested trick - if you put your fork down between every bite, you'll eat less and savor more.
To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call 1-800-932-8677.
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