Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Holiday Headstart

From now until January 1, 2009, when we all make our annual resolution to lose weight, be more physically active and really pay attention to our health and wellness, every few days we’re going to post “Holiday Tips” to make the transition a little easier. Just because it’s the season of parties, celebrations and family get-togethers, doesn’t necessarily mean it must be the season of “too much.” So, try to keep in mind that while the holidays are for enjoying good times with friends and loved ones, they can also be a great time to practice portion control, and pay attention to healthy choices—in other words, look for quality over quantity. And this brings us to our first two tips of the season:

  1. Portion size: ½ cup of mashed potatoes, about 111 calories—the size of a computer mouse; ½ cup cornbread stuffing about 175 calories; 3.5 oz. serving of roasted turkey breast (white meat without skin), about 115 calories—the size of a deck of cards; 3.5 oz. dark meat with skin, about 221 calories. Now think about the sides: gravy, rolls, butter, green bean casserole, pecan pie with whipped cream—and appetizers. The average Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner adds up to about 3,000 calories—without seconds.
  2. Quality vs. quantity: So let’s go back to the dinner described above. Pay attention to portion size, but also to healthy choices. White meat is leaner with less fat and fewer calories. Leave the skin on your plate. Substitute a homemade cranberry relish for canned cranberry sauce with high fructose corn syrup. Go lighter on the gravy. Try non-candied sweet potatoes and leave out the melted marshmallows. And keep in mind that pumpkin pie has just 1/3 the calories of pecan pie (and leave off the mountain of whipped cream—instead try a teaspoon spread across the top—same taste, fewer calories and fat).

Also keep in mind that just because you put it on your plate—you don’t have to join the clean plate club. A lot of tastes add up to a big meal, even if you don’t finish everything.

And for a “bonus tip,” especially during the holiday season, eating just 100 calories more than you need every day equals a 10 pound weight gain in a year.

Now’s the time to start planning. Let us know if you have any favorite tips or healthy recipes—we’ll be happy to post those as well.

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