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Sandra Stringer: Tame your food cravings during the sweetest seasons by keeping a daily diet journal
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Each year, I face a challenge when it comes to the days from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28.

Those are the weeks where there seems to be an overabundance of sweet treats such as cookies, pies, cakes and other items.

During this time of the year, I really need to put blinders on in the bakery section of the grocery store.

Sweet potato pie is just not safe when I’m around. I will say I have yet to make one at home that can compare to the ones my relatives make. I’ll keep trying.

The specially decorated, holiday themed cupcakes and cookies always catch my attention fairly quickly. When I was growing up, the icing on cupcakes wasn’t stacked so high. That’s for sure. There’s so much to choose from now.

I remember getting so excited when my sister would make a cake with an icing color other than chocolate or vanilla. Food coloring was magical. Now the stores have premade lime, blueberry, lemon, coconut pecan, caramel, maple spice and other frosting flavors. Plus, you can find blue, pink, neon yellow and green cake mix. And yes, there is even purple and orange.

Food can definitely be fun and getting fit can be fun as well.

I recently read an article suggesting not only keeping a journal of your meals but also take a photo. It will help you remember what and how much you had to eat.

In addition to nutritious, meals should be enjoyable and full of flavor.

Skipping lunch — or any other mealtime — deprives us of a break or time to step away from everything and catch our breath. We can re-energize and get a clearer perspective of things.

The University of Georgia Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program recommends family meals because they have tremendous power. And here’s why:

Eating together gives you and your children time to connect and talk about your day. This is a great time to find out what’s going on in your child’s life.

Conversation will help increase their vocabulary, which will improve their reading skills.

Mealtimes also are a great opportunity to set a good example. Children mimic their parents.

There is evidence that when parents enjoy fruits and vegetables, their children are more likely to eat them too.

Several years ago, I interviewed singer and musician Al Jarreau, who recently died. It was one of the highlights of my career as a journalist.

So one day, hopefully, during a family meal, I’ll get a chance to tell my future grandchildren, great-nieces and great-nephews all about it.

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. She may be contacted at 770-535-8290. Her column appears monthly on Wednesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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