The holiday season is a time meant for joy, celebration, and spending time with family and friends. But for many this time of year can also bring stress, frustration and unwanted weight gain.
Between family get-togethers, workplace holiday parties, and with what seems to be an endless array of cakes, cookies, pies and other sweets during the holiday season often times the temptation to overindulge can seem overwhelming. Add in the late dinners at the mall food court after a long day of shopping and it is not hard to understand why weight gain is common during the holiday season.
But with some forethought and a little resolve, it can be possible celebrate the holiday season without seeing the scale move in the wrong direction. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.
Most of us find it hard enough to find time to exercise when little is going on. Add holidays to the mix and exercise is probably not a priority on our to-do list, unless it consists of running through the mall to catch the latest sale.
By maintaining a regular exercise schedule, you can help to eliminate stress and lessen the holiday tension. At the same time, exercise will help to balance out some of the extra calories you may be eating.
Most people take a few days off during the month of December to finish last minute holiday shopping, so take the time to fit in some exercise as well. It will get you into the habit of exercising, and you can continue the regime after the holiday season is over.
PREPARE FOR EVENTS
Most holiday parties are planned ahead of time. This gives you the option for some healthier eating days leading up to the event. If the party is potluck style, be the one to bring the fruit or veggie tray. You’ll be surprised as to how quickly the carrot and celery sticks are eaten.
If the party is going to be at a restaurant, research the menu ahead of time. More and more restaurants are starting to post their menus and daily specials, so do some research and plan ahead to avoid falling into an unexpected, hidden calorie trap. It will save you the indecision while the waiter is staring over your shoulder and give you the opportunity to mentally prepare for self-control.
DON’T SKIP MEALS
It’s easy to skip lunch or an afternoon snack if you know you’re headed to a holiday party, which is sure to have decadent desserts and plenty of alcohol. You may think that by skipping a meal or two you are saving yourself calories that can be eaten later in the day but this plan has the potential to backfire by causing you to overeat at your next meal. Ultimately, your one huge meal could be more calorie dense than the two smaller meals you would have consumed normally.
To avoid this trap, try adding protein to your lunch or afternoon snack routine, such as low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and unsalted nuts. Most people think twice about snacking, but it actually helps to spread food intake out throughout the course of the day and can often lead to lower daily calorie intake.
The holidays are a time to focus on family and friends, rather than beating yourself up over eating an extra cookie or going for seconds on the stuffing. Focus on maintaining your weight rather than losing.
Remember that the common holiday temptations are around us all year round. The strategies to get us through the holidays are those we should be applying to our daily lives, regardless of the time of year.
Chocolate bars, jelly beans, and taffy, oh my! Since January we’ve made strides to keep a healthy diet during the year’s festivities. We limited our chocolates on Valentine’s Day, we kept Easter dinner portions a reasonable size, and we held to a one hotdog maximum on the Fourth of July. But next thing we know its October and there are unavoidable candy bowls tempting us everywhere we look.
And while it’s okay to occasionally indulge in a bite-sized treat, the problem lies when one turns to two and two turns to…well, you get the idea. Eventually, we find ourselves with unintentional weight gain and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Meanwhile, the threat of an increase in hyperactivity and cavities in our children is giving us a bigger headache than our neighbor’s talking pumpkin.
Like in all things health and nutrition, careful planning is the key. Nutrition Lately has pulled together some simple tricks to help you and your family successfully ‘treat’ this Halloween.
TRICK: PREPARE THE TROOPS
Eating a healthy meal pre-‘trick-or-treating’ is your first defense against overindulging later. We often turn to candy first because our blood sugar is low and as a result we feel hungry. Before leaving home, serving a high-protein, high-fiber meal for you and family should keep temptations at bay for the next 2-3 hours.
A suggestion would be grilled chicken breast, wholegrain rice, broccoli florets, a glass of skim milk, and apple slices for dessert. Drinking plenty of water is also important for keeping cravings at bay. Revert back to your MyPlate guide for other suggestions and tips.
TRICK: BE THE NEIGHBORHOOD HERO
There are several alternatives to passing out candy on Halloween. Here are some suggestions that will make your neighbors both admire you and think twice about what they hand out next year:
- Mini Toothbrushes
- Halloween stickers
- Rubber Balls
- Party Favors
- Colored Pencils
- Raisins Packets
- Key Chains
TRICK: SET A POST-TREATING PLAN
When kids get home from trick-or-treating, allow them to use their newly acquired candy as a sort of currency. First, have kids pile through and choose favorites and non-favorites. Then, make a wager with them that for every piece of candy they fork over they get a penny or nickel. Then kids can use their newly acquired money to buy something (non-food focused) at the store. With the candy that is left, be sure to immediately stash out of sight. Allow kids to choose one piece a day and preferably after a meal.
TRICK: MAKE THE BEST CHOICES
Not all candy is created equal. When you do indulge, try to pick out the lowest calorie and sugar options available. Check out our list for some suggestions:
- 3 Musketeers Miniatures- 24 calories– WINNER!
- Milky Way Mini- 28 calories
- Snicker Mini- 42.5 calories
- Two Twix Bars- 160 calories
- Peanut Butter Pumpkin- 180 calories
- Almond Joy/Mounds- 200 calories
- Include dark chocolate when possible for an antioxidant boost
- Choose hard candies, which you can’t eat as quickly
- Opt for the sugar-free candies, if provided
For more nutrition tips, suggestions and family friendly recipes, visit Kids Eat Right.
The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.), a leading organization for advancing the science and practice of clinical nutrition, has named the week of September 23-27, 2013 “Malnutrition Awareness Week” to help improve understanding of a condition that affects 1 in 3 patients who enter the hospital.
By raising awareness, it is the Society’s hope that clinicians can more effectively diagnose and treat a condition that can increase a patient’s risk of complications such as skin breakdown and infection resulting in longer length of hospital stay and recovery times.
Interested in learning more? Clinician’s can find out how to improve patient’s outcomes by visiting the A.S.P.E.N. website where malnutrition tools and resources are available.
Disclosure: The author of this post (Rob Masterson) is a member of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.
As you are well aware, lactose intolerance, described as the gastrointestinal symptoms that may be experienced following intake of lactose (milk sugar) in amounts greater than the body’s ability to digest and absorb lactose, affects many in the U.S. However, what you may not know is that health professionals and patients perceive and communicate on lactose intolerance differently and that misconceptions related to lactose intolerance can lead to the unnecessary elimination of dairy foods from the diet.
Always at the forefront of providing the most sound nutrition resources for consumer and healthcare communities, [NL] Nutrition Lately would like to highlight an upcoming opportunity for dietitians and doctors to earn credit and learn about best practices when communicating about lactose intolerance.
Join the National Dairy Council for a free health, nutrition and medical professional webinar on Wednesday, August 7 from 12 – 1 p.m. CT. Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, and Jennifer Goodrich, senior analyst at The Hartman Group, will discuss lactose intolerance perceptions and ways to bridge the communications gap between patients and health professionals. As research suggests, health professionals and patients perceive and communicate on lactose intolerance differently, and Robin and Jennifer will highlight effective management techniques in order to help maintain good nutrition.
Space is limited, register today! CME and CPE credits* are available as well.
*CME and CPE credits available.
*CPE: This program has been approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration for 1 CPEU.
* CME: This Live activity, Lactose Intolerance: Bridging the Knowledge and Communications Gap Between Consumers and Health Professionals, with a beginning date of 08/07/2013, has been reviewed and is acceptable for up to 0.75 Elective credit(s) by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Imagine a scenario in which you are at a restaurant, enjoying a delicious meal, having a terrific time dining with a friend when you hear a conversation one table over like this:
A response like this in a typical U.S. restaurant and a bad tip would likely be the least of the waiter’s concerns. But could this be an ordinary conversation held at a respectable dining establishment in the future? Believe me when I tell you, it already is.
Take the Los Angeles restaurant Typhoon, for example. A popular spot which has offered Pan Asian cuisine for over 18 years proudly dons a menu that includes Singapore-style scorpions and Taiwanese crickets, among other insect dishes.
The Northern Thai restaurant Sticky Rice in Chicago offers fried worms (bamboo caterpillars) on their menu. And that’s not all—they also serve a dish called khai jiaw khai mod, which is a Thai-style omelet with ant eggs. As one reviewer boasts, “It’s a delicious, fluffy omelet filled with salty, squishy half-inch-long sacs of tiny black ant eggs.”
In the mood for Mexican cuisine? New York City’s Toloache, a contemporary Mexican bistro, has a menu with several different varieties of tacos including Chapulines (grasshoppers) served with onion and jalapeños.
NOT YOUR THING? CHANCES ARE YOU’VE ALREADY EATEN INSECTS, ANYWAYS.
Don’t have the intestinal fortitude to stomach such exotic and adventurous food? You might be selling yourself short. Turns out, the average American eats around one pound of insects each year through unavoidable and allowed amounts in common foods like peanut butter and rice. These tolerable and non-hazardous amounts, regulated by the FDA, are known as The Food Defect Action Levels. But unlike the dishes mentioned above, these little “additions” to food are unintentional. So why are certain amounts of insects allowed in our food? Here’s what the FDA has stated:
“The FDA set these action levels because it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”
In all honesty, this sort of thing does seem unavoidable. But accidental consumption aside, some insects actually have quite an impressive resume when it comes to reasons for eating them. Just check out a few of the benefits being touted by entomophagy (consuming insects for food) supporters below and maybe you’ll see why a bug you squash today could end up being served on a plate tomorrow. Read more…
Living in Chicago for the past three years has made me somewhat of a #foodie (or what my friends like to call, a ‘food nerd.’) If you can’t find me at one of the city’s newest restaurants openings exploring unique menu concepts and exotic cuisines (and Chicago is in great supply), you may spot me sipping on a cappuccino at the local coffee shop, nose-deep in a newly released nutrition, culinary or restaurant trend report.
And upon finding me, if you were to ask me to share insights on the materials I’ve covered, there are four words that would inevitably come out of my mouth: Sustainability. Local-Sourcing. Environment. Farms.
As more and more Americans become conscious of the personal, local and global consequences of our food consumption, ideas centered on environmental degradation and food products, including ‘Farm-To’ concept, continually tops the consumer trends charts.
In fact, among the National Restaurant Association’s ‘What’s Hot in 2013’ Trends, the topic of environment and sustainable foods was featured in six out of the top 20 trends, including locally sourced meats, locally grown produce, environmental sustainability, hyper-local sourcing, sustainable seafood and farm/estate branded items.
There is a Farm-To Movement, growing like weeds (no pun intended) in this nation and new concepts are popping up daily. From the local farm to our forks, Nutrition Lately explores three ‘Farm-To’ trends that are shaping the way Americans eat.
The most historic of the farm-to-fork trends the restaurant Farm-to-Table concept. Farm-to-Table restaurants are changing the dining-out game. Why spend top-dollar at a Michelin-starred restaurant when you are guaranteed the freshest meats, seafood and vine-ripened produce at the local farm-to-table restaurant fraction of the price, which likely sources from the farm down the road? What’s more is the seasonality feature that is often found at these restaurants, often providing menus tailored toward seasonable.
This past weekend I had a chance to try out a new farm-to-table at a larger scale Food Dance (think Applebee’s with a farm-to charm). I went on a two-hour road trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan to scope it out and the local food was both delicious and fresh, from the sun-dried tomato quiche right up to my 9-Step Blood Mary.
[NL] Farm-To Fact: Farm-to programs increase opportunities for farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors and food manufacturers. Visit your local farmer’s market this summer to increase your Farm-to-Fork eating at home.
An interesting off-shoot to the farm-to-table concept is farm-to-hotels. A recent NBC News article quoted Charles D. Dorn of Dorn Group, a hospitality consulting firm, explaining that “hotels’ embrace of the locally sourced trend is an evolution of hotels’ increasing focus on environmentally minded practices.”
The Hilton Orlando is one hotel that has embraced local sourcing on their dining menus as well as the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which started a food initiative across its brands that requires in part that chefs incorporate at least five local ingredients in their menus.
[NL] Farm-To Fact: Decreasing the distance between producers and consumers can promote food security and also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on oil.
One of the most recent farm-to initiatives is the farm-to-school. The National Farm to School Network is one such example, with a vision to enhance the health of all school children’s, farms, the environment, economy and communities by building strong local and regional food systems. The objective is to include local products in school meals-breakfast, lunch, and after-school snacks as well as educational tools and classroom snacks.
A similar off-shoot to this is the Farm to College program, which connects colleges and universities with producers in their area to produce local farm products for meals and special events on campus.
Both of these initiatives benefit our communities by strengthening knowledge and attitudes toward food, agriculture and the environment.
[NL] Farm-To Fact: Increasing the awareness of farm-to initiatives, especially in school meals programs, can serves to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, thereby improving childhood nutrition, reducing hunger, and preventing obesity and obesity-related diseases.
The grilling season is a special time often accompanied by an array of grilled treats like hotdogs, hamburgers, and barbequed chicken. But if not prepared correctly, sometimes those delicious foods can harbor harmful bacteria and spoil your feast, potentially leading to foodborne illness.
This grilling season avoid becoming one of the 76 million Americans that fall victim to foodborne illness each year and be prepared by following these 5 easy tips to food safety:
1. KEEP HOT FOODS HOT AND COLD FOODS COLD
Sounds simple enough, right? But what exactly qualifies as a safe temperature for cold foods and hot foods? The answer: follow the 40/140 rule. Keep cold foods below 40° Fahrenheit and hot foods above 140° Fahrenheit and you’ll cut down the chance for harmful bacteria to grow significantly. In order to ensure this food safety range use a thermometer as well as other necessities (coolers, ice, thermal containers, etc.) to keep hot and cold foods at their proper temperatures, especially if you’re traveling long distance with food.
2. WASH YOUR HANDS…THOROUGHLY
Another easy way to cut down on the chance of contaminating your food with harmful bacteria! But don’t just settle with a quick rinse with some luke warm water. Use soap, warm water, and be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Try singing the ABCs in your head while your wash as a good measuring stick towards reaching the 20 second mark.
3. DON’T LET THE LEFTOVERS LINGER
It’s easy to forget about the leftovers shortly after eating a large meal, especially when hunger is no longer a concern and post-meal festivities occupy your thoughts. But this is often the time where bacteria gets its best opportunity to spoil the night (and your food). That’s because within a few hours many foods can fall within 40-140 degrees, a danger zone in which most bacteria thrive. Unfortunately, a few hours after a meal is also typically the time when people tend to pick at food for second helpings and that could lead to trouble so be sure and put the leftovers in the fridge 1-2 hours after serving to keep harmful bacteria at bay.
4. KEEP CONTACT SURFACES CLEAN
Countertops, cutting boards, plates, bowls, utensils and other containers should always be kept clean when preparing food items. In the case of raw food items, keep them as well as the containers they’re in separate from cooked or ready-to-serve items to avoid cross-contamination.
5. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT
If a certain food item looks, smells, or tastes suspicious don’t take any chances – just toss it. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
WANT MORE FOOD SAFETY INFORMATION?
For more great food safety information and tips, visit these other great sites specifically aimed at fighting foodborne illness: