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 With the upcoming holiday season, Americans will be spending their days eating - a lot. It has always been a part of our nature to celebrate, meet and reunite over food, and this year won't be any different. Still, experts are telling us to watch what we're eating this season by cutting out some of our favorite foods, and that's just not what people want to hear.


For example, kicking-off the holiday season, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has named October 24 th national "Food Day." While the premise of the day is to bring communities together to push for the affordability and consumption of more healthy foods, it is also telling people to cut out certain "terrible foods." However, it's unrealistic to expect people to give up the things they love altogether, especially when some of those things lend to the traditional, celebratory feeling of family and friends coming together over a delicious meal.


As a registered dietitian, I've learned the best "tried-and-true" approach to a healthy lifestyle is moderation and balance. Deprivation is not the answer. Think about it: the last time you told yourself you couldn't or shouldn't do something, what happened? You did it even more! So instead of saying "no" to your favorite things, enjoy a mini can of diet Coke during your next family meal or allow yourself one or two pieces of bite-size Halloween candy. As long you're consuming these things occasionally or in controlled portion sizes coupled with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, you'll be all set. To even it all out, make sure you take twenty to thirty minutes a day to get moving - even if it's by dancing to your favorite songs on the radio. I promise you'll be more inclined to stay on a healthy track when you're not so hard on yourself. Because after all, eating should be fun!


So, to help you enjoy Food Day and all of the seasons' other food-centered holidays, here are three things to remember:


    Visit your local farmer's market.

Learn about the different seasonal fruits and vegetables that are grown locally in your area.


Get free education on produce you may have never seen before by asking the vendor what is it and how it is eaten or cooked.


Support the people who are growing food locally and taking care of the land and environment in your area.


Expose your family and children to fruits and vegetables they may not see in a conventional supermarket. Learning about where their food comes from may encourage them to eat more fresh produce.


    Cook and eat meals as a family instead of always eating out.

Decide on an all-time favorite meal and eat the meal together as a family.


Get the whole family involved in food preparation, so that everyone can contribute.


If you are adventurous enough to try a new recipe, perhaps try one from a different region of the world (Greek, Thai, German, etc.). The entire family can learn how other cultures eat and celebrate food.


    Remember to teach your family healthy diet and exercise habits.

Whether you are a parent, family member, teacher or mentor remember that you are a role model. This means you have to set an example for how to have a healthy relationship with food.


Never encourage the elimination of a certain food or drink. Instead, teach your family the importance of enjoying their fun favorites in sensible portions while also maintaining a balanced diet.


During meals, discuss how many foods give us the nutrients to grow, have energy and prevent us from getting sick. For example, broccoli is a great vegetable to give you extra energy.


Encourage one another to get active and move more on a daily basis. This way, you can enjoy the foods and drinks you all love from time to time and balance it out with exercise.


Cristina Rivera MS, RD, CSSD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Sports Nutritionist, and Consultant to the Coca-Cola Company. She is President of Nutrition In Motion, PC located in Bethpage, NY.


By Cristina Rivera, RD