As we venture into the holiday season, making plans to enjoy it with our favorite foods and family, why not try things differently?
That means being more health conscious and finding the balance between a healthy diet and cautiously taking advantage of copious amounts of food and drink.
Jackson, Miss.-area nutrition expert Rebecca Turner said most Americans gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
"This does not have to be you this year, with a little self discipline and a survival plan you can cruise through the holidays enjoying every occasion without the unwanted baggage," Turner said.
Following these simple guidelines should help keep the extra holiday pounds away and into the New Year:
-- Before an upcoming office party or holiday gathering, work hard to eat right and exercise. On your splurge date, indulge in your treats guilt-free. Start the process all over again the next week. Limiting unhealthy splurges during the week to one treat will cut hundreds of pointless calories.
-- Mindlessly snacking on hors d'oeuvres before the main meal can add up. Have a small portion of nuts (they're good for the heart), stay away from buttery pastries and snack on fruit and vegetable trays. Save your calorie budget for the main entree and a sensible dessert.
-- Look at the Southern Remedy Healthy Living Program by Mississippi Public Broadcasting and University of Mississippi Medical Center for resources to learn about portion control and counting calories. Download free materials at http://mpbonline.org/southernremedyhealthyliving while planning holiday meal menus.
Dr. Richard deShazo, professor of medicine, pediatrics and immunology at the medical center, said healthy approaches to nutrition don't necessarily require diets. He recommends drinking water before eating a holiday meal and waiting 20 minutes before getting seconds.
"You never eat until you're full," deShazo said. "You eat a reasonable amount of food. When you eat more calories than you need, it becomes fat."
For Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, it's OK to have your favorites, but on a smaller plate accompanied with unsweetened beverages, deShazo recommended.
The Southern Remedy Healthy Eating Plate guidelines are useful for those willing to avoid foods and drinks high in sugar, salt and fat. A healthy plate includes these food categories: protein, fruit, grain, starchy vegetable and dairy.
The average person at a normal weight only needs 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day.
For children, make half the plate fruit and vegetables and the other half whole grains. Focus on dairy, fruits, vegetables and protein, and let the child participate in choosing healthy options.
It's easy to eat all that holiday food and get lazy, but try to keep it moving with exercise to fight holiday blues and burn calories from indulgences. Your body will thank you, and you will be energized for 2014.