No Gain No Pain for Holiday Eating

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No Gain, No Pain-- Delicious Holiday Eating, Healthfully
Susan Asanovic, MS, RD, Private Consultant, guides us with three simple strategies to have your cake and eat it too!

It’s a given by now that Americans typically add between three and five pounds between turkey time and the final New Year’s open house. This year, give yourself a great holiday gift - optimum nutrition without weight gain, and enjoy special and symbolic foods as well.
Sound too good to be true? Read on for three simple strategies that will help you through the pitfalls of the season. Extra calories and rich foods are consumed partly due to external cues? advertising, social pressures, habit? and partly in response to deep-rooted internal cues.
#1 Eat!
A substantial lowfat breakfast and large healthy lunch will help you detour around desks topped with chocolates and holiday cookies and all those treats in the malls.
Stay charged all day with healthy snacks to avoid the low-blood-sugar blues. When we get too hungry we tend to make poor food choices or to overeat.
Snack on something before heading out to parties to avoid fat-laden appetizers, cheese and nuts which take up precious calories that you would rather spend elsewhere.
Survey the entire buffet and choose one enticing selection, typically something you don’t usually eat or a friend’s delicious new recipe then fill up on lowfat vegetables, grains and fruits.
Shift the focus of your meals from meats to holiday side dishes and serve a large array of lowfat dishes based on legumes, pasta, rice, vegetables and fruits. Special foods, such as wild rice, porcini mushrooms, passion fruits and homemade pasta make it holiday fare.
Challenge yourself to revise familiar family classics, such as gravy and side dishes, to slimmed down versions. Usually you can cut the amounts of oil, butter or cream by half, without compromising flavor or texture; sugar can also be reduced by half, especially if there are fruits, dried or pureed, in the recipe. Another trick is to dilute dips and spreads with pureed silken tofu or fat-free ricotta cheese. Everyone can find some creative idea for a healthier version of an old favorite.
#2 Treat!
An occasional eggnog or punch is fine, but in small cups, not mugs. Alcoholic beverages have empty calories that are usually stored as fat; dilute your drink with ice or seltzer.
Choose your treats carefully and just take a small bite, but not too many small bites. People don’t realize that a lot of little bites add up. A bit of pasta here, a pinch of cheese there, a slice of bread, a spoonful of dessert?  before you know it, you’ve eaten two dinners.
Do your friends a favor and offer only what you can eat yourself without sabotaging your healthy holiday life-style. Avoid buying high-fat or sugary holiday snacks “just to have around for company.” Don’t worry; your guests will find plenty of bonbons elsewhere; you can offer them a fresh change.
At the end of your holiday meals, treat your guests by sending them home with doggie bags so you are not eating leftover extra helpings all by yourself.
#3 Move Your Feet!
Remember, exercise is NOT a walk at the mall. Keep your regular routine and find functional exercise, e.g. use a snow shovel instead of a snow blower; rake leaves; park further and walk; take the stairs, etc.
Reward yourself with vibrant health, not another Christmas cookie. Once you internalize the basics of an enjoyable holiday eating plan, and get in tune with food cues, you will devise your own tips and tricks; share them with everyone you love.


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