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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Chow Line: Enjoy, but keep control over holidays (for 12/5/10)

November 23, 2010

There's so much good food around during the holidays, I have a hard time controlling my eating. And, it's getting harder and harder to lose the extra pounds after the first of the year. Any tips?

It's so easy to over-indulge on special occasions. The problem we face during the holidays is that "special" occasions pop up all the time, one right after another. Gatherings with friends and family, workplace parties and special events, special holiday dinners complete with sumptuous desserts -- they all seem to conspire against those of us who are trying -- really, we are! -- to eat healthfully no matter what. has ideas for "Steps to a Healthier Holiday" for this time of year. You can see them all online at, but here are a few to get you started:

  • First, try to make it simple to eat healthfully when at home. When making brown rice, barley or other whole grain to have with dinner, make enough to freeze for use as a quick side dish on a busy evening. Keep fresh fruit visible, in a bowl on the table, counter or at the front of the refrigerator, and keep stocked on fresh, canned (in water or juice) and frozen fruit, so it's always available as a quick snack. Snacking on fruit (and fresh vegetables, such as carrots, grape tomatoes and green peppers) will help fill you up and help you resist the urge to overindulge on high-calorie temptations.
  • When eating out, avoid dishes with creamy sauces or gravy -- that's a signal that the dish is likely high in calories and saturated fat. Choose steamed, grilled or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sauteed, and resolve not to clean your plate. In fact, when the food arrives, ask for a take-home container immediately and set aside half to take home.
  • Know proper portion sizes. The web site has links to help you become familiar with them. Or, when serving yourself at meals or parties, try taking just half of what you might normally and see if that amount satisfies you.
  • When you're doing the cooking, take full advantage of the control you have. The site offers ideas for healthier substitutions for all sorts of recipes. For example, skim the fat off pan drippings before making gravy. Use fat-free milk and liquid margarine for white sauce. When baking, use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs.


One final idea: Keep moving. Get 30 minutes of activity per day (split it up into three 10-minute bursts if that's easier to schedule). Not only will it help you burn extra calories, but the next time you're tempted to overindulge, it will serve as a good reminder of what you'll have to do to work off any extra pounds.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1044, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Julie Kennel, nutrition program manager for Ohio State University Extension in the Department of Human Nutrition in the College of Education and Human Ecology.

Martha Filipic
Julie Kennel