Posts Tagged ‘Christmas and holiday season’

With all the festivities and celebrations during the holiday season we tend to forget or perhaps ignore healthy foods. Whether we think so or not, our bodies don’t celebrate holidays. Too many less-healthy foods reap unwanted consequences, either now or later. We also seem to disregard how much we overeat at parties and dinners.

We don’t have to completely avoid holiday favorites, but we can make practical choices and cut back on the amount we eat. Our holiday tradition calls for fresh coconut cake. I doubt any family members will go without, but they don’t have to feel guilty. With determination we can cut back on the portion size of all high-calorie, fatty, salty, or sugar-laden goodies.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) compiled “Smart Secrets for Sensible Celebrations.” The following tips, adapted from AICR, give suggestions for what they term as “healthy indulgences.”

  • Consider Plate Proportions. Cover one-third of your plate with holiday indulgences and the other two-thirds with healthier choices such as salads and vegetables prepared with limited amounts of fat, sugars, and salt.
  • Select Whole Grains. These foods contain cancer-fighting phenols and saponins.
  • Color with Synergy. The combined action (synergy) of nutrients in different foods makes for a healthier diet. The colors of varied vegetable and plant foods supply different phytochemicals that protect the body in many ways.
  • Choose Party-plate Portions. How often do we attend parties sporting tiny plates and a table laden with a vast array of foods we salivate to try? We settle for slivers of this and a taste of that. Do the same with holiday meals. Take small amounts. Remember, one-half cup of cooked vegetables equals about one portion, and a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Indulge in small tastes of calorie-laden foods—nuts, fats, gravies, and sauces—or skip entirely if you can.
  • Balance Beverages. Alcoholic beverages contain seven calories for each gram compared to four calories per gram for sugar. Consider unsweetened beverages and limit or avoid those with alcohol.

With these suggestions, you can cut calories, limit over-indulgence, and avoid feeling like the stuffed turkey.

Enjoy the holidays.

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A slice of homemade Thanksgiving pumpkin pie s...

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Do you come away from holiday dinners feeling more stuffed than the turkey? There’s help and hope. The long holiday season swarms with temptations to overeat. Eating frenzies from Thanksgiving through New Year’s may increase weight by as much as four to five pounds, but the average gain comes closer to one pound. Planning ahead helps avoid increased calorie intake and excessive eating  during special occasions.

What holiday dinner choices tend to add the most extra calories? Delicious stuffing? Yams floating in sugar and butter? Tantalizing desserts?  Simple tips can help decrease holiday over-indulgence.

  • Identify foods loaded with the most calories and make an alternate choice.
  • Pass up second servings. Most of us leave holiday dinner tables not only full, but miserable. Fill your plate once and if you sample many dishes, cut portion size to less than usual.
  • Eat slowly and savor the flavor longer. Take time to think about what you are chewing and relish every morsel.
  • Consider lower calorie desserts.  Compare the following approximate calorie values per serving and choose wisely:
    • mincemeat pie (500 calories);
    • pecan pie (450 calories);
    • apple pie (425 calories);
    • pumpkin pie (325 calories);
    • coconut cake (400 calories);
    • fruitcake (150 calories);
    • eggnog (350 calories);
    • mixed frozen fruit (250 calories).

If you can’t resist eating a high-calorie dessert, request a half-serving. For pies, consider leaving the crust and foregoing the whipped topping.

Calorie-laden foods need not enslave us this Thanksgiving. Choose wisely and be thankful for the bounty God provides.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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As the holiday season approaches, we busy ourselves with extra tasks including food preparation. None of us would intentionally harm others through improper handling of food—but it happens. Careful attention helps assure safe food. The web site, www.foodsafety.gov, provides guidelines to follow for purchasing, preparing, and serving food. Some guidelines are basic: wash hands often, store foods properly, and pay attention to proper handling and cooking of foods, especially meats.

The “Fight Bac” brochure, www.fightbac.org, explains four steps to food safety:  Clean—wash hands, cutting boards, etc. frequently; Separate—avoid cross-contamination; Cook—use cooking temperature guides; Chill—refrigerate promptly.

The “rule of four” reduces possibilities of food spoilage.

  • Thaw, prepare, cook, and reheat frozen items, within four hours for all procedures.
  • Store cold foods below 40oF.  Keep hot foods above 140oF.
  • Limit the time foods stay in the optimum bacterial growth danger zone (40oF to 140oF). Cool and refrigerate or freeze leftovers within four hours.  
  • Use refrigerated leftover foods and highly perishable foods such as fresh meats within four days.

Also, remember to cook turkeys to an internal temperature of 160oF, fresh hams, 160oF, and precooked hams, 140oF.

Keep family and friends safe this holiday season. Following these above suggestions helps prevent foodborne illness. Enjoy a food-safe Thanksgiving.

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