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The holidays come with much anticipation and excitement, as well as a little dread. The dozens of holiday cookies, the variations of fabulous fudge, and the finest candies around, are sure to excite the taste buds. But when these goodies have you surrounded each day from November to January, the dread of the holiday pounds weighs you down. Here are some holiday tips to help you gain control.

  • Make your cookies or candies, but freeze half for later in the year. If you’re used to giving platefuls away as gifts, consider cutting back and giving half as much, along with a non-food gift, such as movie tickets or a book.
  • Make a plan to be active. Try fun winter activities, such as sledding or ice-skating. Carve out extra time for additional walking while shopping. Search the internet for fun dance or exercise videos.
  • Make a plan to eat healthy. If you know ahead of time that your office holiday party will likely have lots of unhealthy treats, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast with fruits, low-fat dairy or other nutritious foods hard to come by.
  • Practice portion control. You don’t have to forgo every holiday treat that meets your eye, but grab a smaller portion than normal.
  • Pack a healthy snack…and gum! Always have a healthy snack readily available for days when you’re faced with too many high-calorie foods. Make the snack fun, such as flavored almonds or light popcorn. Minty gum also helps kick the craving to the curb.

With a little planning (and a little self-control), you’ll be less likely to put on the pounds during the holidays. And you don’t have to eat perfectly to do it.

 

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Toasted Pecans (Printable PDF)

3 large sweet potatoes

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)

⅓ cup chopped pecans

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut in half. Fill a stockpot with water; place potatoes in water, making sure they are completely submerged. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes; drain. Mash with a potato masher or mixer and add brown sugar and cinnamon. Transfer to serving dish. Toast pecans in a nonstick skillet for about 2-4 minutes. Top potatoes with toasted pecans and serve.

Yield: 6 servings (1 cup each)

 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 172 calories, 4 grams fat, 17 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein