Do you find yourself at holiday parties, struggling to make reasonable food choices at the buffet table?
It can be very difficult to resist the many holiday food temptations that are all around us.
Well, if you would like to NOT gain the 5-10 pounds that most folks gain between Thanksgiving and the New Year,
here are a few calorie-saving tips.
1) Eat 3 meals as usual to prevent overeating later in the day
2) Savor small bites of the richest foods
3) Lighten up beverages by alternating calorie-containing drinks with calorie-free
Great Holiday Buffet Choices:
1) fruit and vegetable dishes (of course)
2) smoked salmon and spiced or grilled shrimp
3) any dishes that seem to be baked, broiled or grilled vs. fried
small flavorful cookies
one-crust fruit pies or fruit crisps with oatmeal topping
The holidays are filled with food temptations loaded with fat and calories. Be sure to enjoy some of the
seasonal treats but not at the expense of your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels or weight.
When you are going to a holiday event I bet there will be many folks in attendance who’ll appreciate your
effort to bring a healthy appetizer or dish – there is only so much rich food that we can handle!
And who wants to spoil the holidays with an unexpected trip to the Emergency Room.
And then, of course, keep up with your daily walks and bring everyone else along to continue family time in a very healthy way.
Welcome to the holidays. And the holiday season usually means extra food, special meals, and loads of additional calories.
There goes the waistline or a spike in your blood pressure or blood sugar readings! This year think about making a few easy
changes to some of those family favorites to trim the calories, sodium and sugar to help you make it to the New Year in tip-top shape.
Here are a few healthy food prep tips.
Appetizer Ideas (make at home from scratch to reduce sodium and fat)
Black bean or hummus dip
Creamy dips made with Greek yogurt, nonfat buttermilk, light mayonnaise and/or reduced fat sour cream
Black bean-corn-salsa dip
Side Dishes for holiday meals
Homemade stuffing or dressing made with whole-grain bread cubes, salt-free broth or apple cider and chopped walnuts and pecans
Baked fruits such as apples and pears
Oven-roasted vegetables – Brussels sprouts, acorn squash, sweet potatoes
Coat pans with vegetable oil cooking spray
Reduce sugar in bakery recipes by 1/4- 1/3
Make single-crust pies
Even during the holidays it is possible to eat healthy by simple recipe modifications. Before you dive in and make a recipe in the
traditional way, just take a look at those ingredients to see if you can make an adjustment:
Can you cut the salt in half or even cut it out completely?
Could you use whole-grains to make a recipe, thus increasing the fiber – for example, wild or brown rice in a stuffing rather than white bread cubes?
Feature seasonal fruits and vegetables at all meals.
And then attention to the volume of food eaten- perhaps smaller portions will be satisfying enough.
And be sure to include an extra long walk each day to balance out the extra calories.
As we all know, a high intake of sodium and salt may have an impact on the development of high blood pressure later in life. And this seems to hold true for children as well.
For example, in a U.S. study of over 6,000 kids, each additional 1,000 mg of sodium per day resulted in an increase in blood pressure readings.
A recent Melbourne, Australia study of youngsters aged 3 months to 18 months adds some ammunition to previous high blood pressure studies. Researchers found that when
Family Foods were added to the diet of little ones, the sodium intake doubled from 486 mg in the 9-month old children to 1,069 mg in the 18-month old kids.By 18-months of
age, children were eating a variety of Family Foods that contained a fair amount of sodium/salt from –
Researchers found that the children with the highest intake of sodium by 9 months of age had stopped breastfeeding at a younger age, and had solid foods introduced
earlier in life. And this makes sense, doesn't it, because breast milk and infant formula are not high in sodium, and neither are the early baby foods such as infant cereals,
baby fruits and vegetables – they are all prepared without the addition of salt or preservatives that contain sodium.
And the reason for this fuss about the sodium content of children’s diets – it may result in high blood pressure later in life. SO current guidelines are to hold off on the introduction of solid foods until 6 months of age but have a discussion with your own pediatrician first.
Nutrition Tip: when your children begin eating family meals with the rest of the family, make as many dishes as possible from scratch to keep the sodium/salt intake to a minimum.
We’ve been talking quite a bit this month about pre-diabetes and diabetes. Both of these diseases are connected to excess body weight, especially in the mid-section or belly area. As we age, it is a health benefit to stay at a lean weight that is appropriate for you. And my observation, after nearly 40 years in the nutrition field, is that there is no magic to weight loss, there is no perfect way to lose or the best diet. But researchers do know some characteristics of people who grow older AND maintain a healthy weight.
Tips for getting to and maintaining a healthy weight:
- Eat 3 squares - that means 3 meals daily to get the nutrients that your body requires. Start the day with breakfast within an hour of getting up to rev your metabolism. And then strive for just 4 to 5 hours between your 3 meals. For example, breakfast at 8:00 a.m., lunch at1:00 p.m. and dinner at 6:00 p.m.
- Serve up SENSIBLE: check out your portions. You can use your hands as a guide (palm size serving of meat; fist size for starch, and 2 fists for non-starchy vegetables). And using smaller plates sure does help.
- Eat WHOLESOME foods most of the time – LESS processed foods and more dishes made from scratch can be more filling and provide fiber.
It is a confusing dieting world out there. Low fat or low carb? Paleo or gluten-free? As long as there is money to be made from selling a diet, there will be some promise at weight loss.
From studying folks who age lean, it is clear that they live well and moderately:
- They eat regular foods, but a nice variety.
- They do much more food preparation at home from scratch with real food ingredients. That trims the salt, sugar and fat, and provides dishes that are more filling.
- Meals are enjoyed in a relaxing environment, not eaten in the car or in front of the TV or out of a box or container.
- They are active each day – this helps to keep a trim body and waistline. And remember, it is your waistline that should stay lean – 35 inches and less for women and 40 inches and less for men to prevent chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you have been told that you have pre-diabetes don’t wait to do something about it.
A delay in action means that 15-30% of folks with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
The numbers about pre-diabetes are staggering!
• More than 85 million American adults – or more than 1 in 3 – have pre-diabetes
• 51% of adults over age 65 currently have pre-diabetes
Pre-diabetes is a condition when your blood sugar or glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2.
The risks for pre-diabetes are similar to the risks for developing diabetes:
• being 45 years and older
• having a family history of diabetes
• having gestational diabetes during pregnancy
• being overweight/obese
The lab work that would indicate that you have pre-diabetes:
1) a fasting glucose of 100-125
2) a random glucose of 140-199
3) an A1C of 5.7-6.4%
Get that glucose back to normal and yourself out of the pre-diabetes category!
Lose weight, if needed– it should be a top priority.
Watch your intake of the carbohydrate foods including starches (breads, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes), fruits, and sweets/dessert.
MOVE every single day. Be an active person.
If you have received the diagnosis of pre-diabetes, the worst thing is to do nothing. Talk things over with your family to see
what can be done differently to help you live a more active life, to make healthier meals at home, to stay up on your medical
appointments and to reduce life stressors.
Learn everything you can about pre-diabetes:
• Look into a Pre-Diabetes class at your local hospital.
• Take a Pre-Diabetes/Diabetes Supermarket Smarts class – check with your local grocery stores.
• Online education from the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org.
You can reverse pre-diabetes but whatever you do to get it under control needs to be continued for a lifetime.
It’s November and that means Diabetes Awareness Month is underway. We really do want to think about diabetes prevention all the time, but perhaps a sharper focus this month will motivate you into action if you are at diabetes risk. It is a disease that strikes 29 million Americans. Another 86 million have pre-diabetes, which means they are on their way to diabetes sooner or later.
Know if YOU are at risk for diabetes:
• Does it run in your family?
• Do you carry extra belly weight?
• Are you older?
• Did you have gestational diabetes when you were pregnant?
Get your blood sugar or glucose tested periodically. These numbers indicate that you might have diabetes:
1) A1C of 6.5 or higher
2) a random glucose of 200 and higher
3) a fasting glucose of 126 and higher
If you have diabetes, get control of your glucose readings to minimize health problems down the road:
1) enjoy a variety of foods with minimal processing in modest amounts to maintain a healthy weight
2) include daily walks or activity
3) take any prescribed diabetes medications
Receiving the diagnosis of diabetes may be the motivator you need to make healthier lifestyle choices and changes. And whatever you do to control your diabetes is really good for the entire family.
• Your spouse and kids can join you for your daily walk or weekend hikes. The goal: 30 minutes of activity each day because you do have diabetes every single day.
• Enjoy family meals with great conversation and delicious wholesome foods.
• And then keep up with current reliable information about diabetes – there is great online information at www.diabetes.org or www.nih.gov.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society reminds us that there will be over 224,000 new cases diagnosed in this year alone, and over 159,000 men and women will die from lung cancer in 2014. The statistics are staggering, aren’t they? By the way, the average age of diagnosis is age 70.
Smoking is by far the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer AND it is a risk factor that we have total control over. But it is also a difficult addictive habit to cure. Here are some food tips that might help in this journey if you need to quit.
Food Replacements for Smoking
Popcorn, cooked plain
Drink Sugar-Free – all day long
Water and flavored water
Coffee and tea, unsweetened
By the way, SKIP the alcohol – it is an addictive beverage.
Keep Calories Down
Reduce sugar intake
Select unprocessed foods with natural fiber – they are more filling
Often food, especially sugary items, will replace cigarettes so you will want to be on your game regarding this.
Another area to consider is that smoking has put you at risk for developing cancer. So, when you give up smoking, be sure to choose foods that might offer some cancer protection:
- lots of colorful fruits and vegetables with cancer-fighting substances
- more meatless meals – and for sure, less processed cured meats with preservatives
- fewer refined foods that spike blood sugar levels, like cakes and cookies
And finally, don’t forget that daily walk – exercise DOES offer protection from cancer cell initiation.
Halloween is just around the corner – BOO - and according to the National Retail Federation, Americans are projected to spend $7.5 billion on Halloween goodies, decorations and costumes. WOW!! Even though it is a one-day event, you’ll probably want to reign things in if you have little ones, and not let the focus be on candy and sugar. Here are a few tips for a healthier Halloween.
For night time trick-or-treating, safety first: 1) reflective tape on costumes; 2) go in groups; and 3) have good-fitting costumes to minimize tripping.
Family Halloween Party
A costume parade
The focus is off candy, candy, candy.
Non-Food Treats to Give Out
Extra Candy Leftovers?
If you are going to give out candy to trick-or-treaters, give out what you don’t like and buy a small amount.
If you do end up with extra candy, freeze it and dole it out.
Crush or cut it up, put it into bags and freeze. Then add candy pieces later throughout the year to brownie, cake or cookie batter. Yum.
Healthy Halloween Dinner Menu
Decorate special placemats for Halloween dinner.
Stuffed orange bell peppers with lean ground turkey breast and wild rice
Fruit salad with papaya, oranges and mango
Having enough dietary protein is important for all of us, no matter your age.
For the youngsters, protein is essential to provide the nutrition for bones to grow to their full height, for muscles to develop, and for so many other body processes.
Even as adults we need to have protein to maintain our muscle mass, keep bones strong, and to support a good immune system.
Protein intake is still vital in older adults to maintain a strong skeletal muscle system.
A health problem of many older folks is sarcopenia – a loss of skeletal muscle. There is a 3-8% loss of skeletal muscle per decade after age 30. The loss of skeletal muscle accelerates as we age.
What are the health consequences of losing skeletal muscles or developing sarcopenia?
Health researchers recommend one or two servings of dietary protein at each meal to maintain strong skeletal muscles. Protein can come from two primary sources in the diet:
Animal protein sources – dairy (milk, cheeses, yogurt), eggs, fish, poultry, meats, game
Plant protein sources: legumes (dried beans and peas), quinoa, soy (tofu, edamame, tempeh, soy veggie crumbles), nuts and nut butters (peanuts, almonds, etc.)
With lengthening lifespans and active busy lives in the older years, it is important that we work on body maintenance as we age. We need the strength, muscle mass, and day-long energy to hike, bike, work part-time jobs, help care for grandkids, and volunteer. There are so many active things to do in the day, even when you hit your 70s and beyond. Stay strong with adequate dietary protein to prevent sarcopenia.
Ideas for boosting the protein at each and every meal: (The protein foods are in RED)
Oatmeal made with milk and topped with a handful of nuts and blueberries
Fried egg sandwich on whole grain bread, seasonal fruit and cup of cocoa made with milk
Vegetable beef soup with cheese and crackers
Tuna fish sandwich on oatmeal bread and tomato soup made with milk
Pork tenderloin, baked potato topped with shredded cheese and broccoli
Vegetable stir fry with tofu cubes, served over quinoa
Monday, October 20 is World Osteoporosis Day. It is observed to raise global awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and bone disease. We have 206 bones in our body and so it is really important to have those lifestyle habits that help protect your bones.
Osteoporosis or porous bones puts you at risk for a fracture-the most common places for fractures are the hip, spine and wrist. And unfortunately about 44 million adults have osteoporosis. One in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Here are the Risk Factors for osteoporosis that we cannot alter or change:
Having a family history
Being over age 50
Being post menopause
Note: Men can develop osteoporosis but it usually is later in life.
Here are the Risk Factors for osteoporosis that we DO control:
The age differences:
By the late teens, 90% of bone mass has been developed. So the teen years are extremely important to get in bone-building nutrition and exercise.
Adults need to maintain those strong bones through good food choices and regular activity.
The key nutrients for healthy bones:
Calcium and vitamin D are the most important nutrients for healthy bones. Dairy products contain BOTH vitamin D and calcium (milk, yogurt and cheese). There are vegetables that contain calcium - collard and turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, and broccoli. Vitamin D is also found in sardines and salmon.
- Potassium, vitamin C and magnesium are also important for strong bones.
Magnesium food sources include greens, beet greens, tomato products, artichokes, white & sweet potatoes, and raisins.
Vitamin C is in oranges, peppers, and strawberries.
Potassium is in tomato products, melons, dried beans, potatoes, and bananas.
To protect bones, aim for an overall healthy diet with a variety of foods. And be sure to include three servings of dairy a day. For example:
1. Make oatmeal at breakfast with milk rather than water.
2. Add shredded cheese to your lunchtime salad.
3. Enjoy a yogurt for an afternoon snack.
Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She has worked in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for 35 years, working with patients and their family members to help guide healthy food choices.