FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 20, 2012) -- Food is an important way that friends and Family express their love and appreciation during the holidays; however, it doesn't have to mean adding additional inches to your waistline.

The nutrition care clinic at Lyster Army Health Clinic has helpful tips on how to keep those extra pounds off during the holiday season.

Having a good time and making healthy eating choices is not hard with a little preplanning, said Theresa Osteen, a registered dietitian and chief of the nutrition care clinic.

Making sure to eat a small snack before attending holiday parties can help cut down on how much you eat at the snack table. Offering to bring a healthy dish is also a good way to keep you on track.

"Don't hang out around the food and drink table or you may be tempted to keep snacking," Osteen said, adding portion control is key during the holidays.

Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water is a good habit to form not only during the holidays but year round, she said.

"If you are going to drink alcoholic beverages make sure to drink on a full stomach because the calories from the alcohol are absorbed much quicker," Osteen said.

Those looking to make weight loss New Year's resolutions should be ready to change their daily eating and exercise habits.

"The best way to lose weight is to set a realistic goal and add in exercise during the week," she said. "The Army does not recommend or approve any over-the-counter weight loss supplements."

A healthy weight loss is one to two pounds per week and can be achieved by reducing calorie intake, eating healthier and more often, and exercising.

"Track your progress by using tools such as My Fitness Pal, which can be accessed online or through a free app on your phone," Osteen said.

The nutrition clinic staff is happy to assist patients with achieving their goals by analyzing their body fat percentage and giving them a breakdown of where they stand.

The clinic also offers classes to help patients achieve their goals of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The Army Move! Program is a six-part series available to adults 18 and older for weight loss and weight management. The first classes are Jan. 8 and 23.

The Healthy Heart Management and Prevention class is offered to those with abnormal cholesterol and is Jan. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon.

A two-part series on diabetes prevention and management is also offered with the first class starting Jan. 17 at 9 a.m.

Cooking classes are available to all ID cardholders with priority going to those already enrolled in one of the clinic's classes. Those wishing to attend the cooking class are encouraged to call and check for available spaces as the class is limited to 12 people.

"Participants learn how to cook a meal under 500 calories and taste the end result," Osteen said.

The Jan. 24 class from 1-3 p.m. will focus on healthy Super Bowl foods.

The clinic staff is also happy to visit units to teach classes and give out information.

Patients needing individual appointments must have a referral from their primary care manager.

For more information, call 255-7298.