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Weekend Entertaining

Realistic Diet Program: How Sweet It Is

January 03, 1987|ROSE DOSTI | Times Staff Writer

This year your guests can have their cake and eat it, too.

And so can you.

You can still serve low-calorie fish or chicken and salads with triple-fiber bread along with high-calorie snacks, alcoholic beverages and, not one, but two desserts, just the way you've always done.

But this year it will be OK.

Up to now, Americans (particularly Southern Californians) have been wracked with confusion over their schizophrenic eating behavior. For Americans, food has both a hedonistically sensual and stoically healthbound connotation.

In one hand is a packet of sugar substitute and in the other a double chocolate, fudgy-wudgy mousse pie with 60% fat dripping from its luscious rims.

An unreconcilable conflict in itself.

But there is hope, the health experts say.

'Duality' in Relationship

It's a question of coming to grips with our "duality in our relationship with food," Dr. David Heber of UCLA says.

Heber, who is director of the Weight Management Center at the UCLA School of Medicine, thinks the American conflict of viewing food as both sensual and healthful, pleasurable and painful, need not be a problem.

"Using food in a way that meets psychological needs is a very important part of eating. That kind of eating will not hurt if done once in a while, say at a party. What's in the pantry and what you eat every day is what really counts," he said. There is nothing wrong, thinks Heber, with with an occasional dessert in fixed portions. "It may not be the healthiest, but it is psychologically healthy," he said.

So, now, with permission of the experts, we can live and let live and enjoy.

There is only one hitch. You have to know how.

And you will, once you understand the dynamics of the duality syndrome and apply some of the low-calorie guidelines gleaned from the experts, to your next party menu.

Because fats, alcohol and excess sugars have been the culprits in adding calories to foods, here are some guidelines on how to trim them from menus and food preparation.

A Fourth of Plate

On fats:

--It helps to visualize the plate as pie, suggests dietitian Rita Storey. The protein portion (meat, fish or poultry) generally contains more fat in relation to carbohydrate foods (fruits, vegetables and grains), so it should occupy a fourth of the plate or less while starches and vegetables about two-thirds to three-fourths, according to Storey. Fat accounts for nine calories per gram while carbohydrates (including sugar) account for four calories per gram, a difference worth remembering when you plan meals.

--Stay away from snack foods cooked in oil, such as egg rolls and chips, Heber cautions.

Instead of buying tortilla chips, cut fresh ones and bake instead of fry them. Use desired seasonings to boost flavor.

--Peanuts are especially high in fat. About 10 peanuts contain roughly 104 calories.

--Plain popcorn, especially popcorn made in a microwave oven without salt or butter is a good substitute for peanuts, or any snack, for that matter. A cup of butterless popcorn contains only 23 calories.

Another fact worth remembering, Heber thinks, is that oil, butter or margarine contain the same amount of calories--about 100 calories per tablespoon.

--When selecting entrees, go for less fatty meats, chicken or turkey (light meat preferably), fish (cod, haddock, sole, halibut, perch, pike, snapper, salmon, swordfish, and fresh or water-packed tuna are lower in calories than fatty mackerel, trout or tuna packed in oil).

Avoid Creamy Soups

--Serve clear soups instead of the creamy ones that are bound to be loaded with as many calories as you'd find in cream.

--Emphasize vegetables in meals (appetizers, salads and meat accompaniments). They are generally our lowest calorie foods, about 30 calories per cup for most vegetables.

Counting Calories

--The addition of sauces, especially those made with fats, can double or triple the calorie count of a dish.

--Consider simply drizzling lemon juice over grilled or poached meats.

--Using only half the amount of butter or oil won't hurt any food cooked in them. You'll also trim calories by reducing the amount of fat by half or less and combining it with an equal amount of broth when sauteeing, as in stir-fry dishes, scrambled eggs or omelets.

--You can reduce fat calories considerably by using low-fat or nonfat milk products, such as nonfat yogurt in lieu of sour cream, especially when using them for dips or adding them to baked potatoes. A tablespoon of low-fat yogurt contains about seven calories (nonfat yogurt has even fewer calories); a tablespoon of sour cream 28 calories.

Less Oil in Dressings

--To salad dressings, add a higher proportion of lemon juice or vinegar to oil to cut calories. And, adds Heber, substitute light, liquidy dressings such as French or Italian (vinaigrette) for the more caloric creamy dressings, such as Russian or blue cheese. Oil, remember, contains 100 calories per tablespoon. A tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar has no (negligible) calories.

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