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Guilt-free holiday eating

Does your holiday cheer seem to grow with each helping of Aunt Betty’s famous potato pancakes, Uncle Joe’s sausage pie or Grandma Rose’s fancy fruitcake? If so, like millions of women, you probably greet the new year one dress size larger.

To make this year’s celebration a little lighter but no less festive, try these strategies:

  • Be picky. Don’t even try to resist beloved holiday dishes, but do be selective. When will just a taste of a family favorite do? What dishes are worth splurging on?
  • Extend healthy habits to holiday meals. As with any ordinary day, let vegetables, legumes and whole-grain rolls be the foundation of your holiday meal.
  • Snack well. Amid the hectic holiday preparations, regular, balanced meals may become a memory. To compensate for gaps in nutrition, snack wisely.
  • Please the eye. Your friends and family won’t even miss the chips when you present a platter of colorful crudités and fruit kabobs made with melon wedges and strawberries.
  • Adjust your cooking technique. Chances are, the baked version of your spicy chicken tastes just as delicious as the fried. And your guests might appreciate the lighter take on a heavy classic.
  • Don’t let company distract you from your hunger and satiety signals. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re eating when gathered around a table for hours. So eat slowly and focus on what your body is telling you. When you feel full, put your fork down.
  • Reinforce your inner resolve to stop eating with an outer gesture. Nudge your dish an inch away from you. Place your utensils or your napkin on your plate.
  • Foil food pushers. “Go on, have one more pastry.” It’s hard to say no to such prompting without feeling rude. Just say, “Aunt Ann, the pastry was so good, I’m still savoring my last bite. Thanks anyway.”