ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 30, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 31

Healthy eating during the holidays

Developing healthy eating habits is relatively challenging for many of us. To watch what we eat and to change some not – so healthy eating habits into a more healthy one seems to require determination and a will to accomplish as well as to set health goals for ourselves.

So many holiday recipes burst with dietary indulgences of extra butter, cream, plenty of sugar, fat and salt. The holidays typically encourage us to indulge in high-fat, high-calorie foods that are low in nutrients. Here's some scary food for thought: To gain 5 lb from now to the end of January, all you have to do is eat an extra 200 calories per day more than you need; for example: An ounce of chocolate here, an ounce of gravy there, some cheese cake and some eggnog everywhere. Imagine that! Too many of us sacrifice our wellness/health for calorie-packed holiday meals.

Do you like or even love foods high in fat, sugar and salt, such as fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cakes, pies, chips, cookies, eggnog, ham etc.? If your answer is NO, great! You have just eliminated yourself from the list of those who eat foods that are not so healthy or good for your body. However, if your answer was yes, you can learn to change your eating habits to more healthy ones. We're not saying that you shouldn't eat these foods but please eat them in absolute moderation – small portion sizes.

Persons are discouraged from eating foods that are low in nutrients or even void of nutrients; commonly called "empty calories." Many of the sweets and sodas, to name a few, are known to be high in calorie but very low in nutritional value. Persons who may choose to sample or even indulge in alcoholic beverages are also cautioned that although there are liquids, there are some that are very high in calories. Therefore, even though they are liquids and the majority of the contents are passed out of the body in the form of urine, persons who moderately to over indulge should count in the additional calories for each meal.

Some of us go on our "exercise vacation" during the holidays, so we just pile on the pounds by eating all the extra calorie laden goodies of the season without one thought of exercise.

Parents have been encouraged to purchase toys for their children that promote physical activity such as tricycles, bicycles, skates, roller blades, skipping ropes, hoo-la-hoops as opposed to board games to have children seated for long periods and which do not promote physical activity and thus the expenditure or use of calories gained. For adults who plan parties, you are encouraged to plan team games throughout the season which would not only promote physical activity and the expenditure or use of calories gained, but it would create a fun filled atmosphere of love and unity for which the season also promotes. One way to avoid expanding waistline is to watch your serving sizes and portion sizes of foods. Remember that the whole idea is energy control or balance. To gain 1 lb we have to eat 3,500 kcal and to loose 1 lb we need to burn 3,500 kcal. Therefore, if we want to maintain our weight or not gain additional weight, we have to watch the caloric content of our food and drink and exercise.

We are aware of the party atmosphere that exists at this time. However, we encourage you all not to "throw caution totally out of the window." As was mentioned earlier, we are not saying that you should not eat the foods that you enjoy during the Christmas but please eat them in absolute moderation – small portion sizes. We encourage you to strike a nutritional bargain with yourself or a trusted "eating /drinking buddy" that you will eat and drink responsibly this season for your health.

So in a season of candies, fruit cake and eggnog, how can we keep our waistlines intact still have a jolly good time? Challenge yourself to think and act upon these few nutritional health tips we have provided.

Here are some other holiday survival tips:

  • Don't skip meals and starve yourself especially if you have an event to attend. Therefore, always eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch in the day to avoid overeating at the event.

  • Exercise at least thirty minutes to an hour each day. It helps to burn calories, relieve stress, and improve your mood.

  • Watch your portion sizes. Just because we see food in an abundance means we must eat them in abundance. Go for small portions. This way you can sample all the different foods. Make moderation your best friend!

  • Watch out for the fat, salt and sugar! Although we need a certain amount of these nutrients in our diet, we must be careful not to exceed the amount. Some foods to watch out for are fried foods, cream-based soup, candied sweet potatoes, potatoes au gratin, cheese-filled casseroles, pies, cheese cake, eggnog, processed meats such as salami and sausages, some pastries, chips, cookies and other baked goods.

  • Always drink plenty of water. Having other drinks around is no excuse not to drink water. Especially with all the alcoholic and caffeinated beverages that will be around, if we drink these we will need to drink a lot of water because they dehydrate our bodies. Keep in mind, there is no substitute for pure water!

  • When you shop, eat before you leave home so you won't be tempted by all the goodies around.

  • Prepare your favorite meals using wholegrain products, fruits & vegetables.

  • Enjoy the season, not just the food


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