December 15, 2012

What is Your Holiday Personality? (Part 2)

In the last issue, I introduced the idea that there are certain holiday food personalities. I gave two examples of the Deliberate Indulger and the Surrenderor, as well as ways to handle the glut of food this time of years depending on your personality. Here is the last holiday personality, along with general ideas of how to stay healthy, maintain your waistline, and still enjoy this wonderful time of year.

The Reluctant Recluse: Do you skip parties to avoid the temptations? You just might be a Reluctant Recluse. Playing hermit during the holidays isn’t much fun and usually backfires. So, ask yourself if your over-zealous self-control stems from a fear that you’re likely to lose all control once the flood gates open. There are three strategies the Reluctant Recluse can adopt today to begin the journey toward seeing food as a friend, while enjoying the holidays:

1. Go into the holiday season resolved to revamp your typical New Year’s resolution; this time not to lose weight but to solve your eating problem. This helps lessen the pressure of experiencing holiday get-togethers as a battleground between you and food.

2. Ask yourself if you really want to go to the party or are you using food as an excuse to avoid social situations that cause anxiety. In short, is it the food or do you need help with the social aspects of the holidays?

3. If you don’t go to the parties, you’re likely to feel isolated and excluded, and those feelings will send you to the refrigerator. As a Reluctant Recluse, you must give up the dieting mentality and learn to feed yourself on demand and when you are physically hungry One way to learn this is to arrive at a party pleasantly hungry, knowing you’re going to eat something, and giving yourself permission to enjoy some of the food and the company.

While each holiday-eating personality has a unique set of recommendations, there are some guidelines that apply to everyone. Whether you are a Deliberate Indulger, a Surrenderor or a Reluctant Recluse, giving up in the face of temptation is a sure-fire way to leave you whimpering on the scale or feeling deprived come New Year’s Day. Rather than the all-or-nothing approach to the holidays, approach this season well-armed with a specific plan.

That means sitting down with yourself and deciding ahead of time what you will and won’t eat. Maybe you’ll decide to avoid some items, such as the whipped cream on the pie or the egg nog, while setting a limit on favorite foods. You can have those traditional foods that make the holidays special, like the potato latka or the mincemeat pie at a family get together, just keep the total day around 2000 calories, rather than blowing out at 4000 calories. You also can establish a trade off system where you decide to have three pieces of a co-worker’s homemade fudge at the office party this afternoon in exchange for avoiding desserts for the next three days.

Keep your eating schedule on track. Many people skip meals in an effort to save calories this time of year. This plan backfires and inevitably increases cravings and lowers resistance later in the day, which can lead to overeating at holiday festivities. Instead, keep yourself on schedule by stocking the kitchen with low-fat munchables and eat a nutritious light breakfast and lunch the day of a social event.

Remember to eat consciously and only when you’re hungry. You’ll save 100s of calories if you don’t graze unconsciously, eat while cleaning up the kitchen, or nibble while talking. While fatigue, emotions, expectations, and stress are high during the holidays, eating more than you want or need won’t bring you closer to a friend, calmer at a party, or more energetic.

The holidays bring with them a wealth of emotions, both good and bad, and some people turn to food to sooth their feelings. Family reunions can be a mixture of joy and conflict, expectations for the holidays can lead to disappointments and loneliness, and even the stress of preparing for the holidays can evoke memories that are both sad and happy. “Be aware of your emotional state when you’re eating during the holidays. Talk through, rather than eat through, those feelings. Often telling a friend that the holidays are a hard time for you can help relieve the pressure and reduce unwanted eating.

Finally, most holiday parties have a selection of low-fat options. Take your time at the buffet table to check out the offerings. Then fill the plate with fresh vegetables, melon slices or other fresh fruit, salads with low-fat dressing, and lean slices of meat. That way you can have small samplings of the higher-fat festive foods, but won’t be tempted to overdo it.

Of course, you also need to put this food thing in perspective. The greatest gift at the holidays isn’t the buffet table, the fruitcake, or the champagne, it’s the conversations, the comraderie, and the laughter enjoyed with friends and family. So when possible, plan parties around holiday activities that nourish your soul and build memories, but that don’t call for food, such as caroling, tree trimming get-togethers, skating or sledding, or strolling with friends through the neighborhood to see the decorations.

Photo credits: Jeannie via Compfight, Alain Limoges via Compfight, elana’s pantry via Compfight

Just Do This Today

1) Be choosey. Decide ahead of time to attend only the parties and eat only those foods that are most important to the tradition of the holidays.

2) Don’t skip meals.
Skipping breakfast to bank the calories will lead to overeating at the party. So front load your calories, by eating a light and healthful breakfast and lunch.

3) Sample, don’t gorge. The enjoyment of tasting new foods comes in the first few bites. Savor the flavor of one appetizer, but don’t eat the whole bowl.

Hot Off the Diet Press

1. DHA Improves Reading Skills in Children
As if lowering the risk for heart disease, depression, dementia, and more wasn’t enough, now researchers at Oxford University in England report that the omega-3 fat DHA also improves reading and behavior in school-age children. Healthy children between the ages of 7- and 9-years-old who were underperforming in reading were given either placebos or 600 milligrams of DHA (as algal oil) a day for six months. Results showed significant improvements in reading (up to a 50% improvement) in the children whose initial reading performance was in the 10% to 20% group. Parent-rated behavior problems also were significantly reduced in the DHA-supplemented group, with no side effects. The researchers conclude that, “DHA supplementation appears to offer a safe and effective way to improve reading and behavior in healthy, but underperforming, children from mainstream schools.”

Richardson A, Burton J, Sewell R, et al: Docosahexaenoic acid for reading, cognition and behavior in children aged 7-9 years. PLoS One 2012;7:e43909.
Photo credit: o5com via Compfight


2. Sugar Addiction Gaining Ground: Brains can’t resist sweet and creamy foods, or at least rat brains, according to a study from the University of Michigan. Researchers gave the animals a drug to artificially boost the action of a portion of the brain, called the neostriatum, then gave them a hefty dose of M&Ms. The animals ate twice as much candy as they normally would, or the equivalent of a 150-pound person eating seven pounds of candy in an hour. Endorphin-like chemicals produced in the neostriatum also increased, producing a very pleasurable experience. When presented with a choice of their usual rat chow or M&Ms, the rats with high levels of the chemical consistently ignored the rat chow and dove into the candy. The researchers feel these findings have important implications for humans, food addiction, and weight management.

Difeliceantonio A, Mabrouk O, Kennedy R, et al: Enkephalin surges in dorsal neostriatum as a signal to eat. Current Biology 2012;September 18th. Photo credit: Jonathan Moreau via Compfight

Watermelon3. More Watermelon, Please! Men who consume lycopene-rich diets are at low risk for having strokes, according to a study from the University of Finland. The study included more than 1,000 men between the ages of 46- and 65-years-old who had their blood levels monitored for lycopene, alpha and beta-carotene, and vitamins E and A. By the end of 12 years, 11 men with the highest lycopene levels had suffered strokes, while 25 strokes were noted in men with low lycopene levels. Even when factoring in smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes, men with the highest blood levels of lycopene had a 55% lower risk of suffering a stroke.

Karpii J, Laukkanen J, Sivenius J, et al: Serum lycopene decreases the risk of stroke in men. Neurology 2012;79:1540-1547. Photo credit: Harsha K R via Compfight


Food & Mood Tip – The Snack Attack

With two-thirds of Americans snacking, this national pass time has come out of the closet and into the nutritional limelight. At no other time of the year is snacking more obvious then during the holidays. But, the good news is, snacking is good for you! It even might help manage your waistline between now and New Years.

Wait! Isn’t snacking Bad?

Most of us were raised on ‘three square meals’ a day, a dietary practice that might have contributed to this nation’s battle with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Skipping meals, eating a large dinner, or not snacking between meals sends a feast-and-famine signal to the body, encouraging it to store more calories as fat. On the other hand, healthy snacking curbs hunger and prevents overeating later in the day. Besides, it helps the body burn the calories for energy, rather than store them as fat. Snacking also lowers blood cholesterol levels and the risk for heart disease and diabetes. It appears that three meals a day are better than one and five or six mini-meals and snacks throughout the day are better than three.

Should We Add a Few Healthy Snacks to the Daily Routine?

The secret is not to add more snacks to your usual diet, but to divide your current food intake into five or six little meals. In other words, have the oatmeal with raisins and orange juice for breakfast, but save the glass of milk and the banana for the mid-morning snack. Have a sandwich, raw vegetables, and tomato juice for lunch, but save the dessert of yogurt and fruit for the mid-afternoon snack. Dine on spaghetti, salad, and steamed vegetables in the evening, then have the slice of French bread and a cup of nonfat cocoa for a late-night snack.

What Are the 4 Rules for Snacking?

1. Keep it simple. A healthful snack takes little preparation and is always in easy reach.

2. Think of snacks as mini-meals: Include at least two of the four food groups: veggies/fruit, whole grains, nuts or protein, and/or calcium-rich milk or soy milk.

3. Eat only minimally-processed foods. Choose foods in their natural states. Snack on oatmeal not a granola bar, a baked potato not potato chips, nonfat yogurt not ice cream, and a slice of whole grain bread not a doughnut.

4. Calories: Limit the snack to no more than about 200 calories.

Eat Your Way to Sexy This Week – Circuitry and Circulation

Inside your sexy self, there is a whole lot of circuitry and circulation going on. For you to feel really sultry, powerful, and alive requires a fine-tuned brain that sends messages quickly and freely, a healthy heart that pumps blood efficiently and easily, and clear and elastic blood vessels that effortlessly move blood and oxygen throughout your body, from head to sex organs. The better that circuitry and circulation work, the more energetic you feel and the better lover you will be.

The building blocks and assembly-line workers for those well-revved systems come directly and only from your diet. Think of the relationship between what you eat and your sex life like the fuel you put into a car. You wouldn’t dream of packing the gas tank with sawdust, then expect the car to run at tip top speed. Hey, you’re lucky if it runs at all! Your body is exactly the same. Pump the nutritional equivalent of sawdust into your body and you are more likely to feel like a jalopy than a race car. Put high-octane foods into that system, rev it up with a bit of exercise, and you will pump up your thrill quotient and reconnect with the Maserati within. The thrust, if you will, is that nutritional deficiencies and/or excesses sap you mentally, physically, and emotionally….and that saps mojo.

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the Week

Very Berry Lemon Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
(From the Food & Mood Cookbook by Elizabeth Somer and Jeanette Williams)

Blueberry PancakesTo cut back on sugar, use Splenda or another sugar substitute (that will cut 28 calories per pancake or 15%).Wheat germ loads these yummy pancakes with nutrients, from vitamin E and zinc to the B vitamins.

Cooking spray
1 1 /2 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1 /2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/4 cups nonfat milk
1 /2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 1 /2 cups blueberries (fresh or partially frozen)
Fat-free sour cream (optional)

2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon zest (grated lemon peel)
4 cups blueberries (fresh or partially frozen
4 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons corn starch

Preheat pancake griddle (approximate setting – 380 degrees). Spray with cooking spray.

1) With a whip and using a large bowl, thoroughly blend flour, wheat germ, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Set aside.

2) In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly blend egg yolks, oil, milk, yogurt, and lemon extract. Gently blend in blueberries.

3) Beat whites until firm, but not dry. Fold into pancake batter. Batter should be slightly thin.

4) Pour 1 /2 cup of batter onto griddle for each pancake. Turn when bubbles on top begin to break.

5) Top each pancake with 1/4 cup blueberry sauce (see below) and a dollop of sour cream (optional). Serve with orange juice. Makes 12 five-inch pancakes.

To make the sauce: Heat 2/3 cup water and lemon zest in saucepan over high heat. Once the mixture reaches a boil, cook for 3 minutes to soften peel. Add blueberries and sugar and heat through, approximately 3 minutes. Blend thoroughly 2/3 cup water and cornstarch and add to blueberries. Stir until sauce turns clear. Remove from heat. Makes 3 cups.

Nutritional Analysis per pancake with 1/4 cup sauce: 189 Calories; 18 percent fat (3.9 grams); 0.6 grams saturated fat; 12 percent protein; 70 percent carbohydrate; 2.4 grams fiber.

Photo credit: Young Yun via Compfight


Answers to “Do You Know?” from Last Issue

Can people take a vacation from dieting, because come January, they can go right back to their healthy eating habits?
Don’t do it, because you may never come back! Studies show that people who are most successful at weight loss keep to a consistent plan every day of the week. They don’t even splurge on weekends. To take off six weeks makes it very likely you will revert to old habits and find it hard to regain the weight-loss ground you had before the holidays.

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?
Wrong. Don’t do it. Don’t put your body in starvation mode. Starving yourself usually backfires, and you wind up overeating at the party. The best strategy for weight control is to eat lower calorie, higher fiber foods such as crunchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Eat smaller meals more frequently, have a light snack before heading to the party, and when you get to the party, continue to think small. Have a small portion of everything so you’re satisfied, but not stuffed.

Do You Know?

Is it true that as long as you exercise, you can eat whatever you want?

If you gobble a truck-sized load of turkey and stuffing at a holiday meal can you expect to gain up to 5 pounds?

Check next week for the answers….

Label Lingo

The package of meat states that it is “lean.” This means that in a 3-ounce portion, there are less than 10 grams of total fat, fewer than 4.5 grams saturated fat (a teaspoon), and no more than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. The meat can still be 40% or more fat calories, so don’t be fooled into thinking it is calorie-low or fat-free.

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 Very Berry Lemon Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
Tea or coffee

2 fig bars
Sparkling water

Chili Chicken Sandwich made with: (broil if desired) 2 ounces chicken breast, 2 canned Ortega chilies, 1 slice low-fat Monterey Jack cheese, and 2 slices whole wheat bread
2 cups tossed salad w/ 2 Tablespoons light dressing
1 cup lightly-steamed broccoli dunked in 1 tablespoon low-calorie Ranch dressing

1 whole wheat pita bread dunked in 1/3 cup hummus (made with no oil or fats)
1 cup red bell pepper slices

3 ounces grilled halibut topped with lemon juice and basil leaves
1 small baked sweet potato
1 cup steamed green peas
Spinach Salad made with: 2 cups baby spinach leaves, 1 tablespoon craisins, 1 tablespoon low-calorie Italian dressing

Evening Snack:
1 cup fat-free hot chocolate

Nutritional Analysis for the day: 2070 Calories; 25% fat (57.5 grams); 12 gram saturated fat; 1.9 grams omega-3 fats; 21% protein; 54% carbohydrate; 44 grams fiber.