PUBLISHED: 3:27 PM on Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Everyone loves holiday food, but moderation is key
Three-ounce turkey breast with no skin: 115 calories. Dark meat: 140 calories.

Four-ounce serving of green beans: 45 calories. With margarine: close to 100 calories.

Half-cup of stuffing: 160 to 210 calories.

Half-cup of mash potatoes with margarine: 112 calories. Two tablespoons of canned gravy: 45 calories.

Dinner roll: 100 calories depending on type of roll. Butter per pat: 45 calories.

Pumpkin or sweet potato pie: 420 calories. Pecan pie: 670 calories.

The feeling of undoing the top button of your pants: Priceless. 12-ounce beer to heighten that feeling: 145 to 155 calories.

But this holiday season, you don't have to let it get that far. The good news is that there are ways to keep those holiday pounds off.

The bad news: it's mostly up to you to do so. But no need to get overwhelmed. There are ways to enjoy the food you're eating and stay healthy at the same time.

Mt. Carmel clinical dietitian Karen Calvert says there are two factors to consider as people prepare for the holidays: whether self-preparing the meal or traveling to someone else's home for dinner.

"If you're doing the cooking, then you have a lot more control over making it healthy by using substitutes or lower-fat ingredients," Calvert said. "If you're not cooking, I think it's a little more difficult. It comes down to making healthy choices."

For example, Calvert said, when making stuffing, people can use egg substitute that doesn't have cholesterol or fat; use sugar-free gelatin for salads; fat-free sour cream instead of regular sour cream.

Ham or turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing, a dinner roll and pie are usually the staples of holiday dinner, Calvert said, and not only can people choose what ingredients go into what they're eating, but they can also control those portions.

If somebody wants mash potatoes and dressing, Calvert said, then maybe do smaller portions of both and leave the dinner roll off. If pie's a favorite, then go with a smaller piece. If it's a choice between dark meat or turkey breast, then pick the breast.

"And it's hard. It really is," Calvert said. "Particularly at holidays because it's a time when you do want to splurge. You don't really want to overly restrict yourself, and the meal's a big part of the celebration."

People have a tendency to gain weight during the holidays, Calvert said, but it's not just because of the two big meals: Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Food's everywhere, with coworkers bringing high-calorie foods to work during the two-month period.

It's definitely tempting when people bring snacks to the workplace, Calvert said, but if you partake in it, then you should probably increase your exercise or cut back at mealtime.

Calvert recommends trying to have a plan as to what and how much you're going to eat before traveling to a big dinner. But then again, there are some people who don't have to worry. It just depends on the person, Calvert said.

"If you're going to gain 5 pounds from the meal and it's gonna take you forever to get it off, you're probably going to watch it a little closer," Calvert said.

"But if someone's not watching their weight or not worried about their weight or if they're not diabetic..., well then one meal's not going to do them in."

And there's always New Year's resolutions to help take the weight off. "Some people don't even want to deal with this issue at all until after the holidays," she said.

People don't necessarily have to give up what they like.

"You can still make some of those same dishes that you enjoy," said Linda Timme, nutrition services coordinator for Crawford County Health Department.

Offer some healthy alternatives like vegetable or fruit salads to counter that turkey, mash potatoes and stuffing, Timme said.

And if the dinner's at your house, she said, then afterwards divide up and send leftovers home with family members.

Also, Timme said, be active.

"Go out for a walk instead of sitting in front of the TV after having Thanksgiving dinner.

If you have young children in the family, take them to the park," Timme said.

"Just try to be more active during the holiday season... And it will help relieve stress, too."