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Adding Moderation and Balance to Your Holiday Diet

Now is the time of year when just the thought of celebrating the holiday with family and friends seems to add inches to the waistline. But, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) says "Celebrate!" Believe it or not, any foods — including traditional holiday treats — can be incorporated into a healthful eating plan. It's all about moderation and balance, according to the ADA.

ADA's "Nutrition and You: Trends 2000" survey reveals that many Americans identify with the fear of having to give up their favorite foods as a major obstacle to healthful eating. But whether you are watching a football game, shopping or meeting friends at a party, you should enjoy foods this holiday season, ADA says.

ADA offers the following tips on how to do so without putting on the extra pounds:

Be realistic. Don't try to lose weight during the holidays — this could be a self-defeating goal. Strive to maintain your weight by balancing party eating with other meals.

"Eat small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can enjoy cebration foods without overdoing your calorie intake for the day," says spokesperson Tammy Baker, a Phoenix-based registered dietitian.

Be active and keep moving. Walk the mall, go ice skating with your family or plan a party that involves fitness, like bowling, skiing or hiking.

Take the edge off your hunger before a party. Eat a small, low-fat snack before you head out the door to help you avoid rushing to the buffet table when you arrive at a party. And take the time to greet the people you know when you get there — conversation is calorie-free. Get a beverage and settle into the festivities before eating. Try sparkling water with a lime twist — sparkling water doesn't supply calories, unlike wine, champagne or a mixed drink.

Make only one trip to the party buffet. And be selective!

"Choose only the foods you really want to eat and keep portions small. Often a taste satisfies a craving or curiosity," says Baker.

And, try to do your socializing away from the buffet table to eliminate any unconscious nibbling.

Choose lower-calorie party foods. Raw vegetables and a small amount of dip is a good choice. Try broiled shrimp or scallops with cocktail sauce or lemon; take it easy on the fried appetizers. If you want to ensure there are healthful treats at the party, bring the veggie or fruit platter yourself.

Enjoying a sit-down dinner party? Make your first helping small. If your host or hostess expects you to take seconds, the total amount will be about the same as a normal-size portion.

"The most important thing about holiday eating is to forget the all-or-nothing mindset," Baker says. "Depriving yourself of special holiday foods, or feeling guilty when you do enjoy them, isn't part of a healthy eating strategy, and it's certainly not part of the holiday spirit!"

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