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So much more of our time this month is spent getting together with others. This can be so much fun!

The down side is that the average person gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holidays. This gain may not seem like much. But this is weight that often stays on and can add up every year.

What are some simple things we can do to lessen our chance of putting on weight we don’t need?

Help guests make healthy choices

Food and drinks are a part of many events. Find ways to not make it the center of your time together. Focus on activities that get people moving. Create ways to allow people to spend time talking, playing, and laughing.

Make foods look festive

It may be as simple as adding some bright colors. Try putting a few eye-catching vegetables on a favorite dish. Add on top a touch of herbs or spices to make the dish pop. Cut foods into fun shapes.

Offer water in a new way

Make fun ice cubes from 100% juice. Add slices of fruit to make water more exciting.

Savor the flavor

Be mindful of the taste of each bite of food. Make small, healthy changes to your recipes. Try dishes from another culture to liven things up.

Let MyPlate be your guide

Offer whole-grain crackers. Serve a spicy bean dip and a veggie tray. Make fruit kabobs. Layer yogurt and fruit to create a sweet parfait. Use whole-grain pasta or brown rice and veggies to make a savory, healthy salad. MyPlate is the current nutrition guide published by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Plan for being active

Being active makes everyone feel good. Dancing, moving, and playing active games add fun to any gathering.

Try out some healthier recipes

Find ways to cut back on added sugars, salt, and saturated fat. Look at how you can adapt some of your favorite recipes. Try out some of the recipes on WhatsCooking.fns.usda.gov.

Keep it simple

Have others join in the meal by bringing a healthy dish. Allow others to help with the cleanup, or keep the kids active.

Shop smart to eat smart

Save money by offering foods that fit your budget. Buy in-season produce when it costs less and tastes better. Shop early so you can buy foods when on sale.

Be a role model for good habits

It’s never too early for adults to be a good example. Children watch and follow what the adults around them do—even at parties.

Source: DG Tip Sheet No. 20, United States Department of Agriculture, www.choosemyplate.gov

Four Corners Health Department offers many resources to help you live healthier. Call 877-337-3573 or send email to info@fourcorners.ne.gov. For healthy recipes and more, go to www.fourcorners.ne.gov

Enjoy a healthy and safe holiday season!

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