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Avoid Winter Weight Gain : Limit Calories With Nutrient-Dense Diet

January 10, 1985

There are tricks to curbing wintertime weight gain generally brought on by overeating and reduced activity, according to a Los Angeles registered dietitian.

Susan Magrann said subtle weight gains of one to two pounds a month can add up to more than 25 pounds after several winters.

"The best place to start to control calories is to look at the fat and sugar content, or nutrient density, of the foods you eat," Magrann said.

Some foods--called nutrient-dense--provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals for their calories. Foods such as low-fat dairy products, lean meat, chicken and fish, fruits and vegetables, and breads, pastas and cereals are the best sources of calcium, protein and vitamins A, B and C, and are relatively low in calories, fat and sugar.

Other foods supply more calories than nutrients. These extra foods include jams and jellies, salad dressings, cookies, candy, cakes and oils.

"By eating more nutrient-dense foods (those lower in fat and sugar) from the four food groups, and limiting 'extra foods,' you can easily trim 500 calories a day from your diet," Magrann said.

"Trim 50 calories a day by drinking two glasses of low-fat milk instead of whole milk and still get your day's supply of calcium." Magrann suggested eating plain yogurt with fresh fruit instead of fruit-flavored yogurt to save 100 calories.

Tuna or chicken salad can be made with equal parts of mayonnaise (100 calories per tablespoon) and plain yogurt (8 calories per tablespoon). This will trim about 100 calories per 6-ounce can of tuna or chicken. Using water-packed tuna in place of oil-packed will save 145 calories per half cup.

Trimming excess fat off meat will pare 100 calories from a 3-ounce serving, Magrann said. Baking instead of frying chicken will save 80 calories per 4-ounce (two pieces of chicken) portion. Remove the skin from a chicken breast and trim 90 calories.

Nearly all fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and are good sources of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. Limiting the high-fat sauces will keep fruit and vegetable dishes low in calories, Magrann said.

Trim baked potato calories by substituting 2 tablespoons of sour cream (50 calories) for 2 tablespoons of margarine (200 calories).

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