Here a nibble, there a nibble, everywhere a nibble, nibble...
In "the eating season" of November, December and January — from the day after Halloween until the last play of the Super Bowl — adding a few extra pounds is easy to do.
During this busy time of year, normal activities, such as eating, sleeping and exercise, often are set aside in favor of holiday activities and events.
And, while spending time with family and friends during the holidays is enjoyable, most activities include seasonal foods that are high in calories, sugar and fat.
Here are a few tips to enjoy holiday foods without adding pounds from the experts at Kansas State Research and Extension:
* Schedule regular meals and snacks during the holiday season. Eating lightly before a party or event can take the edge off the appetite, and still leave room for sampling party foods without overeating.
* Make healthy snacks available, such as fruit, low-fat cheeses, whole grain crackers or cut-up vegetables and low-calorie dip.
* Store high-calorie foods out of sight.
* Survey a buffet table before getting in line so you can make informed choices rather than helping yourself to one of everything.
* Choose a smaller plate and a variety of foods. Remember to "taste" rather than "graze" to control excess calories.
* Return your fork or spoon to the plate after each bite, and chew slowly to really savor the flavor and texture of the food.
* Reduce temptation by choosing a seat well away from the buffet table.
* Socialize, rather than rationalize second helpings, by engaging in conversation or activities away from the food table. Wait 20 to 30 minutes after eating before considering a return trip to the buffet table.
* If preparing food for a buffet and/or hosting a holiday party, offer a variety of foods and make sure that low-fat and low-calorie choices are available.
* Family favorites and holiday foods can be enjoyed in moderation, just be sensible about the portion size and control the urge for seconds.
If the season finds you feeling tired or stressed and beginning to think about food, consider an early bedtime or a walk around the block, rather than a trip to the kitchen. Chewing gum, sucking on sugar-free hard candy or simply doing some stretching exercises — reach for the ceiling, rather than a piece of candy — also can help to tame the temptation to use food to ease fatigue or stress.
More information on food, nutrition and health, and managing holiday meals is available at my blog called Living Well on www.swktalk.com.