UACES Facebook Enjoying the Taste of the Holidays Without the Regret
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Enjoying the taste of the holidays without the regret

By Lisa Lakey
For The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

(566 words) 

LITTLE ROCK -- The holidays and food go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. With holiday parties, family gatherings and cookies galore though, it can be easy to overindulge. And the holidays should be about spreading holiday cheer, not your waistline. 

So what’s a holiday party-goer to do? Rosemary Rodibaugh, Professor of Nutrition for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said a little forethought and self-control can go a long way to enjoying the tastes of the season without the flavor of regret. 

“Think about how your stomach feels when you are eating,” she said. “On a scale of zero to 10, where zero is really hungry and 10 is uncomfortably full, stop eating when you are a five — not hungry anymore but not yet feeling full. 

“If you are planning on going to a party, eat a little less during the day starting with a high fiber breakfast,” she said. “Also eat a small meal or snack mid-day such as fruit or a whole grain bagel with some protein so you aren’t hungry when you get to a party. Socialize before you eat and do not stand near the food to minimize nibbling.” 

Even when away from holiday gatherings, there are party leftovers, sweet treats from clients, cookies for Santa and gingerbread houses with the kids. Before indulging in all the sweets left behind, look the other way. 

“Out of sight, out of mind,” Rodibaugh said. “Do not leave the food gifts or treats sitting around in plain sight. Research from Cornell University shows that people are more likely to eat foods that are left out on the counter or visible in glass containers. Take food gifts to work and let your coworkers enjoy them.” 

Do your holiday guests a favor. When hosting a gathering in your home, take the guesswork out of calorie counts by making a few changes and remembering a few simple tricks. Your waistline and those of your guests will appreciate the added effort come time for New Year’s resolutions. 

“There are lots of things you can do to reduce fat, sugar and calories without sacrificing taste in your favorite recipes,” Rodibaugh said. “Another tip is to not eat foods that you can have every other day of the year. Choose only the special holiday foods that you get once or twice a year. Fill your plate only once and don’t go back for second helpings.” 

Holiday Meal Tips and Tweaks from Rosemary Rodibaugh, PhD, RD, LD 

•Use two egg whites in place of one egg in most baked goods

•Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and cut back on butter or margarine

•Substitute applesauce or other pureed fruit for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads. Try substituting a small amount at first, as the more you substitute the more the texture of the finished product changes

•Reduce sugar by one-third in pudding and custards

•Use fat-free yogurt, fat-free or reduced-fat mayonnaise or sour cream for dips and sauces and lite whipped topping for pie toppings

•Choose reduced-fat or low-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles

•Serve fresh fruits and vegetables for appetizers and salads. They help fill your guests up so they won’t eat so much of the main course and dessert items•Use smaller plates so people will naturally take smaller amounts 

For more information on avoiding overheating, contact your county FCS agent, or visit

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 


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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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