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Holiday food consumers need good game plans

By Linda Breazeale

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- With attention focused on the many football games played during the holidays, people might not realize they may need their own game plan when it comes to eating.

Brent Fountain, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said as the number of tempting foods during the holidays increase, so should the effort to make wise food choices. Consider quantities, quality and frequency of foods consumed.

“Avoid opportunities to graze at parties. Instead, use the one plate method. Take a plate and place each of the foods you plan to eat on the plate at one time. This will help prevent the desire to go back for additional food and help you see how much you are eating.” Fountain said. “Remember eating smaller portions will allow you to sample more food.”

Fountain recommended eating at a slower pace for longer evenings.

“Give your stomach time to react to the food. Let your body catch up with your eyes,” he said.

In addition to portion sizes, Fountain said people should consider the types of foods they are eating.

“Typically, desserts are going to be higher in fat and sugar and will therefore be higher in calories. If you are hosting, have healthy choices for your guests. Vegetable and fruit trays with low-calorie dips are good examples of healthier options to offer at parties,” he said.

Fountain said the holidays can be a challenging time for people with diabetes and other health issues.

“Eat meals as close to your regular schedule as possible,” Fountain said. “Monitor blood sugar levels more closely during the holidays. Family and friends need to be supportive since people with diabetes may have to decline certain foods more often.”

Peggy Walker, Extension nutrition and food safety area agent based in Panola County, said there are many ways to lower fat, sugar and carbohydrate counts in favorite foods while keeping the taste and texture.

“Diabetics can enjoy holiday eating along with other family members if they eat a variety of foods, limit fats and find substitutions for high-calorie desserts,” Walker said. “To help reduce calories, select fat-free and light products in food preparation and steam vegetables instead of cooking them in butter.”

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Released: Nov. 16, 2006
Contact: Dr. Brent Fountain (662) 325-0849 or Peggy Walker (662) 563-6260

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