Don't let holiday time add pounds to your weight each year because of overeating.
So says Judy Levine, nutrition consultant for the American Heart Assn. and teacher of nutrition at UC San Francisco.
"The holidays are no excuse to overeat. The holiday season constitutes 25% of the year. The overeating usually starts at Halloween and continues to Jan. 12. You can't blow 25% of your life because of holidays. People who do are usually 10 pounds overweight," she said.
There are several things one can do to avoid overindulging while still enjoying holiday eating, Levine said.
Developing 'Thin' Eating Habits
First, adopting "thin" eating habits will solve many of the problems of overeating. "Thin people definitely have thin eating habits. The trick is to incorporate those habits into your life style so you can practice them the year-round, including during the holiday season," Levine said. Here is a list of "thin eating habits" that help curb calories, with some comments by Levine:
"Exercising is a 'thin' habit. Adopt an appropriate exercise to suit your life style."
--Watch portion sizes.
"Put small portions on a plate. You can tell yourself that you will go back for more, but chances are you won't because it takes 20 minutes for the brain to receive the message from the stomach that you are full. If you have unbuttoned a button or released a belt around your waist you've eaten too much."
--Prioritize foods you will eat but don't eat everything.
"Make a commitment on what you actually will eat before you eat it, by deciding which foods you will eat and those you may not. Then don't eat the ones on low priority. No one is responsible for what goes in your mouth but yourself."
--Adopt low-calorie basic products such as low-fat dairy products, leaner cuts of meat and less red meat.
"They are easy to substitute for fatter counterparts. Avoiding using oils, butter and margarine, mayonnaise, gravies and sauces in excess."
A Tablespoon Less Fat Each Day
--Reduce cooking oil by half the amount normally used.
"There are 2,000 calories in a cup of oil or butter; one stick of butter or margarine contains 800 calories. A tablespoon of oil, butter or margarine contains 100 calories. By eating 1 tablespoon less fat (100 calories) each day will enable you to lose 11 pounds body fat per year."
--Don't cook more than you will eat.
--Never allow long periods of time to elapse without eating.
"Being hungry will set you up to overeat."
--Select low-calorie snacks.
"Low-calorie snacks such as popcorn contain less fat and calories than peanuts. A three-cup portion of popcorn with a small amount of fat contains 100 calories, while one cup peanuts contains 700 to 800 calories. Peanuts also contain 75% fat and only 25% protein. If you save 600 calories per day you will have a 1 1/2-pound weight loss per week."
--Select foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and grains, lean meats and dairy products, preferably those low in fat.
"Women shouldn't cut out dairy products because they are at greater risk of osteoporosis than men. And dairy products are still one of the best sources of calcium."
Avoiding Excess Calories
Here are more tips on how to avoid excess calories:
--Don't go to a party on an empty stomach.
"Physiologically, if you let blood sugar get that low, you would tramp on 10 people to get to the table first."
--Trim fat from meals whenever possible.
"One way to trim fat from gravy is to refrigerate newly made gravy until the fat hardens on the surface. Remove and discard the fat before reheating the gravy."
--Baste turkey or other roasts with fruit juice or wine instead of oil or butter.
"I use white wine and orange juice and still end up with plenty of liquid for gravy. Add vegetables and puree the entire mixture in a blender. The vegetables will add thickness, and the gravy will be fat-free."
--Reduce the amount of fat used whenever called for in cooking.
"Saute stuffing mixtures in half the amount of fat normally used, and use a non-stick pan. You can also reduce fat by using fruit in lieu of nuts and preparing candied sweet potatoes without fats. Salt can be reduced by using salt-free chicken broth."
--Use plenty of herbs and spices as a flavor enhancement in lieu of fat and salt.
"Check a cookbook such as the 'American Heart Assn. Cookbook' (Ballantine Books) for ideas on using herbs and spices. Such a book will also show you how to leave out yolks in cooking and use skim milk in place of whole milk."
--Avoid foods high in sodium, such as salty snack foods.
"Most foods high in sodium don't offer good nutrition, anyway."