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  | By Irina Belfer-Lehat

The holidays can be overwhelming and extremely caloric, but you don’t have to gain weight! Here are some tips and suggestions on how to celebrate and enjoy family gatherings without gaining a pound.

Portion control is always your number one concern! Regardless of what you eat, please measure your food using your hand as a guide:

►Three to four ounces of protein = A deck of cards

►One cup of rice or pasta = A tennis ball

►One ounce of cheese = Three dice

Go easy on desserts
Focus on smaller portions. Instead of chocolate cake, go with strawberries dipped in chocolate. Substitute cream cheese with Greek yogurt when making cheesecakes. You will cut down on overall calories and also on fat. Remember, after a big meal, all you need is a small taste of sweets to go home completely satisfied!

Choose roasting and grilling
This simple switch in cooking methods will cut a lot of fat calories. Casseroles and frying will add unwanted calories to any dish and are easy to overeat.

Sip your holiday beverages smartly
Eggnog and apple cider can add a lot of calories to your diet even without alcohol. Spritz it up by diluting 50 percent of your drink with sparkling water and you will cut your caloric intake in half!

Irina Belfer-Lehat

Irina Belfer-Lehat of Nutrition Solutions Co. is a New York State-licensed dietitian and certified dietitian-nutritionist. Irina Lehat RD Nutrition Solutions offers group classes starting in September, for kids in kindergarten through high school. Small groups, affordable prices! Mention this article and receive 20 percent off any services. For more information, call (917) 769-8031, e-mail or visit