December 1, 2012

What is Your Holiday Personality?

Get ready, here come the holidays – that time of year that brings even the most staunch willpower to its knees. You may dodge every festive temptation throughout the year, snacking on cherry tomatoes and celery sticks while others gobbled up the chocolate bunnies at Easter, the high-fat hot dogs on July 4th, and the Halloween candy in October. But that show of self-control was just child’s play compared to what’s in store this time of year.

Let’s face it. Starting at Thanksgiving and continuing through to New Year’s Day, you will be constantly tempted by the most enticing treats under your most vulnerable circumstances. You may dodge the fudge at the office party only to succumb to your mother’s plea to have one more piece of homemade pumpkin cheesecake. Or, you may gracefully say no to the butter cookies offered at a neighbor’s house only to be slipped a candy cane by a department store Santa. Then there’s the guests coming over, the dinner parties at friend’s houses, and the daily treats at the office.

Yikes. Sometimes it seems the holidays exist just to see how much temptation a person can handle! It’s no wonder we gain weight during the holidays! But wait. Before you finish off the leftover pecan pie from Thanksgiving, be forewarned – Weight gain is not a decree, just as enjoying the holidays and staying healthy is not an either-or issue. In this issue and the next, I will offer solutions to your holiday eating personality.

The Deliberate Indulger: Are you the type of person that throws all caution to the wind during the holidays? If so, you’re a Deliberate Indulger. Your devil-may-care attitude is likely to lead to overeating at every occasion, which adds less enjoyment to the holidays than it does pounds to your waistline. Instead, decide what occasions and foods are really special to you and plan those into your holiday schedule. Once you’re in the door, sample foods that are special or unique to the holidays and bypass the everyday goodies. You can eat a handful of nuts or a chocolate chip cookie anytime, but a thin slice of pumpkin pie or a special appetizer only comes around once a year.

The Surrenderor: Do you have every intention of eating well during the holidays, but have a hard time sticking with those intentions when faced with temptation? If so, you may be a Surrenderor. The big problem here is you are too nice. It’s one thing if you eat the fudge because you genuinely love it, but quite another if you eat the fruit cake because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. The fruit cake also is a waste of calories, since you probably won’t even enjoy it. Instead, before a social event, rehearse how you will handle offers for food you don’t want. You can just say ‘no’ or ask for a doggie bag. In the latter case, you can recycle the food for a gift basket or can take it to tomorrow’s office party.

Photo: Bunches and Bits {Karina} via Compfight

Just Do This Today

Watermelon1. Eat my 1,2,3 breakfast to prevent overeating later in the day. Include: 1) a whole grain to supply carbs for your brain, 2) a protein to keep blood sugar levels even and to feel satisfied, and 3) 2 servings of colorful fruits or vegetables. That’s as easy as a bowl of Shredded Wheat with low-fat milk and a big bowl of watermelon chunks.

2. Bring food with you. Pack your purse, gym bag, brief case with yogurt, baby carrots, an apple, or other tasty treats, so you aren’t tempted to indulge in the office fudge.

3. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to fend off fatigue.

4. Strap on a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps throughout the day.

Photo: Allison P. via Compfight

Hot Off the Diet Press

1. The Vitamin D Diet: Increasing intake of vitamin D might help you drop extra body fat, according to a study from Tehran University of Medical Sciences. In a double-blind, randomized study, 77 overweight women were divided into two groups: one group received 25mcg of vitamin D each day and the other group received placebos. Body weight, height, waist, hip, fat mass, vitamin D levels, and dietary intakes were measured before and after the 12-week intervention. Results showed that as blood vitamin D levels rose in the supplemented group, body fat mass decreased. Read more here.

2. A Spicy Treatment for Diabetes: Taking cinnamon supplements every day helps prevent and even treat type 2 diabetes, say researchers at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Diabetics took either 3 grams of cinnamon supplements or placebos every day for eight weeks. Numerous parameters were measured at the start and end of the study. Results showed that those patients receiving the cinnamon supplements showed improved levels of fasting blood glucose, HbA1c (an indicator of diabetes severity), triglycerides, body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat mass compared to baseline, while the placebo group showed no changes. Read more here.

3. Magnesium for Migraines: Magnesium supplements might help curb migraine symptoms, according to a study from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran. In this clinical trial, 133 migraine sufferers were divided into a control group and three intervention groups: 1) 500mg/day of magnesium oxide, 2) 500mg/day of L carnitine, and 3) 500mg each/day of magnesium and L carnitine. After 12 weeks of supplementation, there was a significant reduction in all migraine indicators, including migraine attacks/month, migraine days/month, and headache severity in the groups supplemented with magnesium. Read more here.

Food & Mood Tip – Water Rules

If there was an eternal fountain of vitality it would flow with water. Next to oxygen, water is the most important nutrient for health and life. You can live without food for weeks, but most people can survive without water for only a few days. Water also reduces your risk for certain diseases, boosts energy and fights fatigue, and might even help with weight loss.

You lose about 64 to 80 ounces of fluid every day if you are sedentary. To replace this loss, many experts recommend that adults drink at least eight glasses (8 ounces each) of fluid a day, even more if you exercise, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or perspire heavily. Many of us are walking around mildly dehydrated because thirst is a poor indicator of fluid needs, especially as we age. Mild dehydration can undermine energy level, mental function, and increase stress on the body. The three rules when it comes to fluids are:

1) Drink fluids frequently throughout the day to prevent dehydration.

2) Include lots of fluid-packed foods in the daily diet, such as fruits, vegetables, cooked cereals, pasta, yogurt, and milk.. (For example, watermelon is 92% water!)

3) Drink at least eight glasses of water daily or one cup of water for every 20 pounds of body weight (a 150 pound who does not exercise or work in hot climates needs 7 1/2 cups of water).

Photo: Nathan Congleton via Compfight

Eat Your Way to Sexy This Week

Is there one great food that we can eat to help keep hair and skin healthy?
You skin is an outer reflection of your inner health. You can’t eat a typical American diet loaded with processed and fast food, then add blueberries or oranges to it and expect your skin to look great, just as one food won’t eliminate your risk for heart disease. That said, if you already are eating really well, then adding a lycopene-rich food, such as watermelon, to the diet will help reduce damage and redness caused from sun exposure, help prevent future wrinkling and possibly even lower skin cancer risk. (Note: vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus, vitamin E-rich foods such as wheat germ, and beta carotene-rich foods such as carrots, also have shown in the research to improve skin protection against sun and aging.)

For hair, it is the nutrients that improve circulation to the scalp, including iron, protein, the B vitamins such as folate and B12, the omega-3s EPA and DHA, water, etc. Foods rich in these foods include spinach and salmon, both improve oxygen flow to the scalp and help keep blood vessels squeaky clean and elastic.

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the Week

Spicy Thai ‘em Up Sweet Potato Soup
(From Eat Your Way to Sexy by Elizabeth Somer)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
10 cups sweet potato (peeled and cubed, approximately 3 1 /2 to 4 pounds of whole potato)
2 minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1/3 cup spicy mango chutney
3 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/3 cup vermouth
6 cups chicken broth
1 8-ounce baker potato, peeled and cubed
½ cup lite coconut milk
½ cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 tablespoon honey
juice and zest from one lime
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Add sweet potato, turn up heat to medium-high, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chutney, peanut butter, and curry paste, and stir to thoroughly coat sweet potatoes. Add vermouth, stir, and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, approximately 5 minutes. Add broth and potato, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until potatoes begin to break apart, approximately 30 minutes. Add lime juice and zest.

2. Transfer soup to food processor or blender and puree. Return to saucepan, add coconut milk, evaporated milk, and honey. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Makes 6 servings (approximately 2 cups each)

Nutrition Analysis: 464 Calories, 20 % fat (10 g, 2.6 g saturated), 67 % carbs (77. g), 13 % protein (15.1 g), 9 g fiber, 863 mg sodium.
jules via Compfight

Answers to “Do You Know?” from last issue:

1. Do holiday parties and festivities cause us to overeat?
It is not the party, but being with friends and family that can lead to diet mishaps. A study at Pennsylvania State University found that dining in a group encourages a person to eat up to 44% more calories than if they ate alone. It is easy to lose track of how much you are eating, when you are socializing. A holiday party is filled with distractions, which only increases the likelihood to overeat. Don’t become a wallflower, just be mindful of your food choices at parties and make a conscious effort to choose fruits and vegetables with a few goodies to accent an otherwise healthy plate. Also, take a second look at each bite before it goes into your mouth, to mentally log what you are consuming.

2. Is it true that traditional holiday foods might taste great, but they are bad for your health?
Not so. Many of your favorites are nutrient-packed wonders that should be eaten more often. For example, sweet potatoes are high in potassium, fiber, and the antioxidant beta carotene, which help lower heart-disease risk. Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidant phytochemicals, called polyphenols, shown to reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries, lowering heart disease. Cranberries contain tannins that help fight urinary tract infections and possibly some types of ulcers, while hot cocoa, if made with 70% cocoa powder, contains twice the disease-fighting antioxidants of red wine!
Photo: Emilie Hardman via Compfight

Do You Know?

Can people take a vacation from dieting, because come January, they can go right back to their healthy eating habits?

Is fasting all day so you can eat whatever you want at the holiday party tonight a good way to maintain your waistline during the holidays?

Check next week for the answers….

Label Lingo – Trans Fats

Trans fats are bad. Really bad. They increase the risk for a number of health problems, including this nation’s #1 killer disease – heart disease. So, manufacturers have cut back on this fat, but it’s still a bit tricky when reading labels. A product can say on the label that it is trans-free as long as it has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. However, eat more than one serving and you could be getting more than your share of this harmful fat. How can you tell if the word “trans free” is really true? Look at the ingredient list. If you see either of these words on the label, then the product still contains trans fats: hydrogenated vegetable oil or partially hydrogenated oil.

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks if you want to cut additional calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

1 cup bran flakes cereal with 2 Tbsp. raisins, 3 Tbsp. almonds, and 2/3 cup DHA-fortified low-fat milk
1 banana

Mid-Morning Snack:
1 cup fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, etc) dipped in 3 Tbsp. fat-free chocolate syrup.

1 serving Spicy Thai ‘em Up Sweet Potato Soup
1 slice sourdough French bread
1 nectarine or orange

4 ounces broiled salmon, seasoned with dill, lemon juice, and salt & pepper
2/3 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup fresh asparagus, steamed
1 /2 medium sweet potato, baked
Sparkling water flavored with lemon

Evening Snack:
3 cups air-popped popcorn
Cup of ginger-lemon tea

Nutritional Information: 2017 Calories, 56 grams fat (25 percent), 282 grams carbohydrate, 91 grams protein, 1,856 mg sodium, 996 mg calcium, 46 grams fiber.