Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Healthy Holiday Eating

You made it through the Halloween parties, but what about Thankgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and New Years festivities. Starting in November, I get more questions regarding how to not gain weight when you have to attend parties and functions. Is it possible to stay fit and healthy when surrounded by foods high in fat, sugar and calories and still enjoy the pleasures of holiday eating and events? Yes, it is possible. You can eat your cake while maintaining a healthy weight – it’s all about moderation and attitude. Be positive - don’t let your food cravings control you. Consider these 10 tips for enjoying the holiday season.

1. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine to help offset increased holiday eating. Go to the health club and take an exercise class. Use the treadmill, exercise bike or elliptical machine. Learn how to use the weight machines or free weights. Walk or jog for 15 minutes twice daily with friends, family or co-workers. Remember exercise time accumulates – two 15 minute workouts are equivalent to one 30 minute workout.

2. Don't skip meals. Starving yourself before a party increases the risk of overeating. In addition, the temptation to eat higher fat and higher calorie food choices intensifies. Before a party, eat a piece of fruit, a box of raisins, a small carton of non-fat or low-fat yogurt, or a string cheese so that you are not famished when you arrive.

3. Eat fiber rich foods first so that you will feel full from "healthy foods" as opposed to refined starches which can cause a plummet in blood glucose (sugar) levels and turn into a never ending hunger cycle. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

4. If you're hosting a party, make sure you offer your guests plenty of vegetables instead of chips and junk food. Reduce the fat in holiday recipes. There are plenty of low fat and low calorie substitutes you can use as replacements that taste just as good as the original. Try using applesauce in place of oil in your favorite holiday breads or cookies; use egg substitutes in place of whole eggs; try plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream. By replacing yogurt for sour cream you will save 40 grams of fat and 290 calories in one cup.

5. Offer to bring a low calorie dish to holiday parties, that way you’ll know there will be something safe available that you would enjoy eating.

6. Eliminate or limit high-caloric beverages such as sodas, juices, smoothies, blended coffee drinks and alcohol. There are almost 150 calories in one 12-ounce can of soda or juice. Instead, choose diet sodas or water that are calorie free. Liquors, sweet wines and sweet mixed drinks contain approximately 150-450 calories per glass. If you choose to drink, select wines and light beers, and use non-alcoholic mixers such as water and diet soda. Limit your intake to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per occasion. Remember that alcohol increases appetite and lowers inhibitions.

7. Eat more of the roasted turkey, chicken or salmon, which is naturally lower in fat and calories, and less of the gravy, stuffing and a second piece of pie. Alternatives such as cranberry sauce and fat-free frozen yogurt can help you enjoy your meal and help keep calories down.

8. Send the leftovers home with your guests.

9. Eat slower - this will assist with consuming less while feeling full and satisfied at the same time.

10. Plan on not dieting after the New Year. Anticipation of food restriction sets you up for binge-type eating over the holidays. Besides, restrictive diets don’t work in the long run. They increase anxiety, depression, food preoccupation, binge eating, loss of lean body mass vs. fat, and makes weight re-gain more likely.

Although food is a big part of the holiday season, it doesn’t have to be the focus. Focus more on spending time with family and friends in addition to the tastes of holiday foods. And remember, overeating one day will not cause you to gain weight. It takes days of overeating and if you over indulge at the holiday meal, put it behind you and focus on returning to prior healthy eating habits the next day without guilt. Have smaller portions of all of your favorite foods and, remember, moderation is the key.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Breakfast and your child's brain

How many times have you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Let me remind you of why it is important to have a well balanced breakfast. Studies have shown that breakfast eaters have a better overall diet, less trouble concentrating, better memory, higher grades, better attendance and punctuality, fewer behavior problems, less likely to be depressed, anxious, fidgety, or irritable, think faster and more clearly, concentrate better, suffer less fatigue, and are less likely to end up in the nurse's office complaining of tummy aches and dizziness.

So breakfast sounds like a good idea, right? So why do I frequently see parents and caregivers running out of their apartment and grabbing a bagel, donut or pastry from the local deli or bakery for their child. Then the children eat the food while they walk or stuff it into their backpack where it probably stays until lunchtime. And by lunchtime, they are running on empty. Breakfast at home is the perfect time to make sure that your child gets a well balanced meal to start the day.

If your excuse is: “We get up too late” or “We are rushing each morning”, my response is: Wake up 15-30 minutes earlier so that you have time to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast. Make sure your children's school papers and clothes are organized the night before. Breakfast does not need to be a big production. See the breakfast suggestions listed below.

If your excuse is “My child is not hungry in the morning”, my response is: Close the kitchen after 8:00pm. No late-night snacks. It is not unusually for someone not to be hungry when they immediately wake-up. Have your child get dressed before breakfast. If you regularly have breakfast before school, eating early becomes an expected routine.

What is a healthy breakfast?
Breakfast should provide one-fourth to one-third of the day's energy and nutrient needs. A balanced breakfast should provide some protein, a little fat and plenty of carbohydrates. It should also include important nutrients that kids often miss, such as fiber, vitamin C, folate, iron and calcium.

Examples of an ideal breakfast all begin with a glass of low-fat or non-fat milk, and a piece of fruit or a glass of 100% juice. Then add a carbohydrate and protein such as:
· whole-grain cereal with non-fat or low-fat milk
· whole-wheat toast with peanut butter
· a hard-cooked egg and a whole-wheat bagel
· grilled cheese on whole-wheat bread
· oatmeal made with low-fat or non-fat milk
· combine non-fat or low-fat yogurt with a whole grain cereal or granola
· vegetable omelet and whole wheat bread

Eating breakfast needs to be as much of a priority for children as doing their homework.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your life

It is so easy to say "Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day". But many have a hard time achieving this. It is not as difficult as you may think. Here is an example from today's presentation at the Marblehill senior center on this very topic.

Let me begin by telling you that these are very bright, fun and witty older adults. It was a pleasure talking to them on this topic. I began by asking them "why is it important to eat fruits and vegetables". They were highly participative with astute responses. Instead of me writing all the benefits for eating fruits and vegetables, check out these links:

Then I provided them information to determine a serving size:

I discussed choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season for the greatest taste, nutrients and best cost. Cost was a big concern for these adults. I discussed the benefits of purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables (maximized nutrients and minimized costs).

Finally, we talked about ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into ones diet. To consume at least 5 servings a fruits and vegies, try to have one at breakfast, a mid-day fruit/vegie snack, one at lunch, two at dinner (always start your dinner with a salad) and a fruit dessert (like baked apples). Here are some other tips from

If these seniors are confident that they can eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables each day, so can you. It is healthy, tasty, filling and satisfying.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Eating for the 21st Century

It is so confusing these days when you try to decifer all the news about nutrition. One day it is high carbs, the next day it is high protein. You have to eat your vegies, but then there is a E. Coli outbreak. Every day it is something new or different.

I will attempt to help you weed through all this information to help you understand the latest nutrition and exercise news and ideas.