When we get to November, for many of us, ’tis the season to overeat. But dietician Carolyn O’Neil, R.D. says that by making some smart and simple food choices you can head off those pounds. Here, her tips on healthy eating strategies:

•Eat breakfast. O’Neil suggests starting the day with oatmeal. “Studies have shown that people who eat high-fiber breakfasts are less likely to overeat at lunch,” she says.

•Don’t forget the fruit. “Adding colorful citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, which are in peak season, as well as leafy green vegetables to your plate can help fill you up,” says O’Neil. “They are rich in disease-fighting vitamins, antioxidants, potassium and folic acid.”

•Make walking a before- or after-dinner habit. Be creative with keeping up your fitness routine as the days get colder. Start a new routine by taking a walk around the block together as a family. Or, says O’Neil, “if you’re visiting relatives, ask them to take you on a walking tour of the neighborhood.”

•Don’t totally deprive yourself. Budget in those calories by passing up the high-calorie foods you merely like so you can occasionally indulge in the rich foods you really love. For example, if you know your willpower is no match for Big Mama’s Seven-Up cake, eat more vegetables and go light on the macaroni at dinner so you can have a big slice for dessert. “If you’ve planned for it, it’s okay to be excessive every once in a while,” says O’ Neil.

[This article was originally published in the November 2002 issue of Essence Magazine.]

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