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National Restaurant Association - Ask the Nutritionist: Make dining out during the holidays a healthy experience

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Ask the Nutritionist: Make dining out during the holidays a healthy experience

National Restaurant Association's Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., provides regular commentary on the NRA News blog. In this post, she discusses tips to keep off holiday weight gain.

The holiday season is here and if you’re like most Americans, restaurants will play a key role in your holiday plans and celebrations, as well as shopping and traveling experiences.

The National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot in 2013 Culinary Forecast shows that health and nutrition as a culinary theme continues to be a top priority for restaurants, particularly in regards to the children’s menu. While dining out this holiday season, parents looking for those healthful options for themselves and their children will be pleased to find a larger variety of choices on restaurant menus. One way to easily access these healthier options is to download the Association’s Kids LiveWell app. The app is available in the Android market and iTunes app store and can be downloaded at Restaurant.org/KidsLiveWell.

Maintaining one’s weight during the holiday season is a reasonable goal. Keep in mind that it typically takes more than a holiday meal to gain weight; however, below are a few recommendations to keep in mind to help prevent any weight gain.

• Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, which are lower in calories and packed with nutrients.

• Try incorporating more fiber rich whole grains into the meal, which may help to keep you fuller longer.

• Limit the sauces, dressing and dips, as they are higher in calories.

• For those more caloric rich options that you may truly desire, allow yourself a small serving or taste and do not "prohibit" yourself from having them; however, enjoy these options by eating slowly and enjoying the moment.

• Don’t think you have to avoid your favorite desserts; just remember to choose smaller portion sizes.

• If you are going to eat a more indulgent meal, adjust your calories accordingly throughout the day but do not skip meals.

• Limit beverage choices to one alcoholic beverage and/or choose lighter options such as wine spritzers or light beer.

• Don’t forget to keep up your physical activity to ensure you are burning the calories you have consumed.

The holidays can be an especially busy time for families. Wherever you choose to celebrate, have a happy and safe holiday season.

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