Monday, November 20, 2006

Lighter Holiday Foods, Lighter You

With the holidays coming up and Thanksgiving being the start of the holiday feedings here are a few ways of keeping off the holiday 10-20 that most people gain. These are pounds that are just that much harder to get off when the holidays are done and some peole just add to them each year. Give thanks for your health and fitness by not gaining the holiday 20. Give yourself the gift of health and fitness this year.

To Your Health and Fitness,

Happy Thanksgiving

Lighter Holiday Foods, Lighter You
By Lucy Williams, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Dreading the inevitable holiday weight gain? Don't let fear of food get in the way of your holiday cheer. There are ways to avoid the belly bulge and still enjoy seasonal foods and festivities.

Get Creative in the Kitchen
Don't be afraid to stray from traditional recipes, said Sally Scroggs, a registered dietician at the Cancer Prevention Center at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "One of the fun things to me is to come up with ways where the food is healthier, more appetizing, and tastes better than some of the traditional dishes," she told Ivanhoe. Here are a few of the twists on traditional recipes she recommends:

Find sugar alternatives. Sweet potato recipes can call for large amounts of brown sugar and butter. Orange juice can be used for sweetness and moistness.
Use spices to enhance flavors. The traditional green bean casserole calls for cream of mushroom soup and onion rings. A tasty dish, but it can be high in calories and saturated fat. Scroggs described an alternate green beans dish with cancer-fighting benefits. "Cook the green beans using olive oil and spice it with turmeric, which has curcumin [the spice in curry]," she said. "There's research here at M. D. Anderson that looks promising for cancer-fighting properties of turmeric."
Be careful with garnishes. Toppings like marshmallows add sugar and provide little nutritional value. Nuts have omega-3 fatty acids but can also pack on extra calories. Parsley can add color without extra fat and sugar. Use garnishing ingredients with discretion.
Don't Go Hungry
Don't go hungry during the day to offset the calories you consume at a holiday dinner or party. Connie Diekman, R.D., Director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said eating small, frequent meals throughout the day could help you maintain a stable appetite.

Make healthy choices and pay attention to portion size. "Focus on whole grains, vegetable, fruits -- try to fill 2/3 of your plate with foods from those groups," Diekman said. "That way the higher calorie foods -- the meats, the gravies, the sauces -- make up a smaller percent of your plate."

Enjoy Desserts
All desserts are not created equal. Scroggs said pumpkin pie is one of the healthier dessert options. "It's going to have beta carotene, potent antioxidants, less-concentrated calories, plus some health attributes."

Portion control is important to keep in mind at the dessert table. One-eighth of a 9-inch pumpkin pie contains about 500 calories. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a taste and refrain from eating multiple slices of pie.

Hit the Party
The combination of wine and rich food can be dangerous for the waistline, but you can still enjoy the party without overindulging. Diekman offered three tips to keep in mind before attending seasonal parties:

Never go to a party hungry. "If you're hungry and start drinking, your appetite escalates. So, it's a good idea to have a small something before you go," she said. Healthy snacks like fruit or yogurt can keep your appetite and blood sugar stable so you consume less.
Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. This will help you control alcohol intake and maintain a stable blood sugar level.
Alternate drinking and eating. It's hard to hold a drink and eat at the same time, so try not to do both at the same time. The longer you stretch out your eating and drinking, the less you will consume.
Be Active
Don't let holiday stress and commitments get in the way of an active lifestyle. "We try to find extra time by dropping our physical activity, but one of the greatest ways to relieve the stress of the holidays is physical activity," said Diekman.

Maintaining an active routine can not only offset the calories of holiday food, it can also help you cope with stress. Get your family involved. Families often bond in the kitchen and at the dinner table during the holidays, but exercise can be another way to strengthen relationships. Challenge a family member to a tennis match or take a walk after dinner. Shared activities can help you bond with your family and even create a new tradition.

This article was reported by, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to:

SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Connie Diekman, R.D., Washington University; Ivanhoe interview with Sally Scroggs, R.D., Cancer Prevention Center at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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