The 45 critical days of caloric intake: Be pro-active Published Oct. 31, 2013 By Maribeth Havran, MS. RD. CSSD. LD 22nd Medical Group, Health and Wellness Center ,Sports and Public Health Dietitian MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- As the holiday season unofficially begins at Halloween and continues through the New Year, calories seem to sneak up on people without their realization. On average, people gain between one and two pounds over the holidays. The problem is we don't lose those two pounds come January, and we and do it again next year. Our downfall during holidays is how to eat healthy but still enjoy the season. Have a plan. This planning includes knowing the calories in foods and beverages you consume at all your special events. Some new phones, computer applications, and personal measuring devices worn can provide instant feedback on a person's activity and calorie burn. Here are some tips to help avoid coming back next year looking like a Thanksgiving turkey. Preparation is key: Be prepared by packing healthy snacks for holiday parties. Snacking on a piece of fruit, low-fat crackers, or a light sandwich can help curb your cravings. Fix a plate: Avoid grazing. It's easy to pick at food trays at a party but by fixing a plate, you will be able to monitor portions. Also, choose a smaller plate. Don't completely ban sweets: Choose only one dessert you feel you must have. Go potluck style: Bring a healthy dish, perhaps a veggie tray, fruit plate, or snack-sized sandwiches with low-fat mayonnaise. Water yourself: Drink mostly water. Other beverages contain lots of hidden sugar and calories. Out of sight, out of mind: Buy decorated holiday tins and fill them with your homemade cookies and candies, then store them in the freezer. Cook it right: Try substitute cooking. In other words, if there's oil in your recipe, use applesauce in its place. Choose to cook with low calorie sweeteners instead of sugar. Simple substitutions can save hundreds of calories. Set your goal: Be firm with your convictions and make a conscious effort to do so. Write your goals down. Get up and move: Do not forgo your physical activity program. It is important now more than ever to maintain a regular fitness program. Not only for fitness and calorie burning, but regular exercise is a great stress reliever during this time of year as well. Get off the couch and move: Whether it's chasing the kids around or helping clean up, you'll burn calories and have a lot more fun doing so. It's much easier to maintain your current weight than it is to try to lose it after the holiday season. Get involved with a supportive program such as the Health and Wellness Center's annual Healthy Holiday Fitness Challenge, which begins on Nov. 22 and continues weekly through Jan. 10. This program keeps people keep accountable and helps ensure their success. Partnership is key. It is very reinforcing to have a workout and nutrition buddy to keep each other in check. Whether it's adding 20 to 30 minutes to a workout or skipping a second piece of pie, maintaining weight and fitness during the holidays isn't impossible - it's just a challenge. To sign up for the Healthy Holiday Fitness Challenge or learn about other programs the HAWC offers, call 759-6150.