We interviewed health and nutrition professionals about holiday weight gain and found that the three top areas of concern for staying trim during the holiday season are (in order of importance):
1. Maintaining exercise schedule
2. Avoiding too many calories from parties and foods
3. Eating healthfully “on the run” with a busy schedule
Here are their creative education ideas to help combat the “holiday waist”:
Susan Davis Allen, MS RD, plans to send quick, informative tips everyday throughout the holidays, including quick little facts or simple healthful recipes.
Many are conducting cooking and food demonstrations – here are some of the best ideas:
• Jill Davidson is conducting a variety of timely cooking demonstrations: Healthy, Hearty Soups, Holiday Appetizers and Gifts of Health. We thought they were right on target for combating the biggest hurdles for staying lean throughout the holidays!
• Amy Kubal, MS, RD, offers handouts and samples of healthy recipes in the cafeteria.
• For October, Dawn Privett, RD, LD, Fit for Life, Inc., is celebrating the fact that apples and pumpkins are in season. For educational classes in their gyms, they will have apple bobbing, a caramel apple design class, grilled apple skewers for snacks, dried apple making, and even shrunken heads made from apples. Then they will do pumpkin decorating and carving contests as well as pumpkin soup, healthy pumpkin desserts and a costume contest on Halloween. In November they will be having fun with pomegranates and cranberries.
One dietitian who works in a dialysis center will have her staff cook a full renal-friendly holiday meal and provide the recipes for what they serve. They like to show their patients that they can eat food that tastes good and is healthy for them.
Chris Loudon shows individuals how to make a better egg nog with nonfat egg substitute, skim milk and flavor extracts, for traditional flavor without the calories. She also makes a lowfat spinach dip with vegetables for dippers, and items made with cranberries.
Jennifer Watson conducts a healthy cooking class focusing on desserts for the holidays. Along the same lines, Kristen N. Roscioli provides recipes and more healthful baking ingredient substitutions to clients.
A diabetes support group will be discussing holiday eating for November and in December they will talk about recipe modification. Another diabetes educator will present healthy holiday eating tips with party food tasting at the end of November. A culinary school graduate will be coming up with some neat new ideas for people to keep things yummy but healthy.
A wellness coordinator is conducting a trivia contest on a variety of nutrition trivia topics and winners will receive a fruit and vegetable voucher. She will also provide recipes for healthy holiday snacks - one each week from November 6th through December 18th.
Carol C. Schlitt Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, University of Illinois Extension, is conducting several holiday diabetic delights workshops with hands-on food preparation featuring holiday foods appropriate for diabetics and others. She is also sponsoring a healthy cooking showcase which features 12 food demonstrators throughout the day presenting food demonstrations on a variety of topics like healthy desserts, appetizers, using buffalo, 5 ingredient recipes, etc.
Salads, tastings and demos
• Holiday Salad Demo - Show them how to dress up a holiday salad using colorful fruits and vegetables.
Red: red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, dried tomatoes, red kidney beans, red cabbage, red Swiss chard, raw beets, red apples, red pears, dried cranberries, fresh chopped cranberries and berries.
• Healthy Holiday Gifts - show them how to make assorted Healthy Holiday Gifts using page 85 for the handout and guide. The fruit basket is a good idea and makes for a quick easy food demo that doesn’t need cooking. The salad bowl with utensils and herbs is also fun to make. And that leads into the idea of an assortment of flavored vinegars to go with the salad items....
• Alcohol-Free Workshop - alcohol adds a significant number of calories to the holiday routine. Why not show clients how tasty alcohol-free beer, wine and champagnes can be by offering tastes of these items? Make an assortment of flavored waters and green tea for them to try, too.
• Show and Tell - Bring your favorite healthy ingredients and share what they are and why you like to use them with the class. Ideas include:
fat-free whipped cream
low-sodium stuffing mix
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.