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COLUMN: Indulging in seasonal treats wisely



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Executive chef Corbin Morwick from One World Catering prepares mushrooms for a meal. It's possible to eat healthily during the holidays by cutting back on appetizers and balancing rich options with healthier ones.  Haley Ward Buy Photos

The holiday season is upon us and that calls for delicious, seasonally appropriate food being consumed at a mildly alarming rate. 

Thanksgiving already feels like the distant past, with fading memories of warm mashed potatoes and stuffing smothered in gravy. My pitiful fridge has nothing on the food my mom can pile up when my sister and I are home for break.

I personally think that holidays are a time to indulge in behaviors you might not normally, such as eating a lot of rich food or watching TV for six hours straight. 

So while I support everyone’s right to eat that third piece of pie, I recognize healthy eating is a lifestyle for many (including me) that doesn’t simply end the day before Thanksgiving and pick up after New Year's. 

So keeping in mind my desire to enjoy holiday events centered on food while also fueling my body, I’ve come up with a few tips. I’m not a nutritionist, but I think these are reasonable pieces of advice that can help you feel better after going overboard.

First off, I’ve learned the hard way to avoid the finger foods and dip lying around before the main event. It sucks to be full on bread, chips, salsa, pretzels and cheese before the ham is even out of the oven. 

Appetizers are filling without much actual substance, and you’ll be hungry later when the main dishes have already been eaten. I make a conscious effort to eat less of these tasty snacks when I’m waiting for dinner and avoiding conversation with people I don’t know. 

Help your mom with cooking. It’s fun, and she would probably welcome it. 

Second, avoid loading up your plate all at once. Take smaller portions and then go back for more when you’re ready. Your body will fill up gradually as it’s supposed to, and you’ll be left with less food on the plate. Plus, it’s a great way to avoid food waste.

Another tip I tried this year is taking the initiative to bring a healthy dish if you know none will be available. At Thanksgiving, I always miss having a few vegetables that aren’t baked and fried. 

I tried to balance it out by bringing a mushroom barley salad that turned out to be very tasty, and I wasn’t the only one to eat it. Chances are, there are more than a few people at your family gathering wishing for a few healthier options. 

One last way to cut down on sugar and carb intake is to watch what you’re drinking with the meal. Liters of soda are ubiquitous at any gathering of more than six people, but try and avoid them. 

Beer and wine can also add up, especially if you’re drinking over the course of a few hours and lose track of how many glasses you’ve downed. Drink water before and after the meal, but enjoy your beverage of choice during for the full experience. 

There are a million of things health blogs and magazines recommend you do, like using skinnier drink glasses and avoiding the color red because it's an appetite stimulant, but I think it comes down to common sense and moderation. 

I encourage everyone to enjoy food that comes around only once a year, just do it concurrently with your normal eating habits. 

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