How to Eat Less During the Holidays

Have a healthy Thanksgiving with lower calorie recipes.

Have a healthy Thanksgiving!

Do you gain weight during the holidays? Many of us do.  But there’s a commonly held belief that the typical weight gain totals 5 pounds or more.  That’s a myth.  When researchers studied holiday weight gain, they found that the typical holiday weight gain is only about one pound.

Why does that matter? Because no one should give in to holiday weight gain.  Those extra pounds are not inevitable and there are ways to eat less and maintain your weight during this social season.  Use these tips to eat less during the holidays.

Tips to Eat Less During the Holidays

  • Be social –  Remember when your mother told you that you should never talk with your mouth full?  You can use that strategy to eat less at parties and family dinners.  Talk more and eat less. You can also help the hostess in the kitchen or offer to assist with table setting or other tasks to stay busy and away from tables of snacks and other goodies.
  • Fill up on veggies first.  When you do visit the food table, look for crunchy veggies to munch on first.  These high fiber foods are low in calories and the fiber will help you to feel fuller longer so you eat less throughout the day.  Skip the dip, though, unless you’ve made Karen Palmer’s low calorie Cheesy Artichoke Spread.
  • Limit your booze intake. Alcoholic beverages can contain hundreds of empty calories and you are less likely to make healthy food choices if you are tipsy.  Before you go to a party or gathering, decide if you are going to have a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail and savor it throughout the event.
  • Skip the sauces.  Dips and sauces can add fat and calories to your dinner.  Yet, we often spoon them onto our plate mindlessly.  Did you know that a single serving of gravy is only 1/4 cup?  When is the last time you measured gravy before you ladled it on to your plate?  Try to enjoy your veggies without dip and your turkey without gravy.  You’ll save hundreds of calories and still enjoy the holiday favorites.
  • Print this list.  Karen Palmer, registered dietitian at North Memorial Medical Center provides Healthy Strategies for Holiday Weight Management.  Check her list for more ways to enjoy the season and stay healthy.  You can even print it out and post it in a place where you can see it every day.

Have a healthy holiday!

Advertisements

Recipes for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Have a healthy Thanksgiving with lower calorie recipes.

Have a healthy Thanksgiving with lower calorie recipes.

Have you made your grocery shopping list for the Thanksgiving meal?  Before you plan the big holiday meal take a few minutes to see if you adjust the menu to provide some healthier fare. It’s a great way to avoid weight gain during during these busy and indulgent holiday months.

Lower Calorie Thanksgiving Recipes

Some traditional Thanksgiving foods are loaded with salt, fat and calories. There are better ways to enjoy delicious food and stay healthy.  Consider swapping some of these high calorie foods for lower calorie alternatives. The healthy recipes come from Karen Palmer, a registered dietitian at North Memorial Medical Center.

  • Cheesy Artichoke Dip. Families and friends often snack and nibble throughout the day even before the big meal.  Those snack calories can really add up.  Traditional artichoke dip, for example, can contain up to 312 calories per serving! Karen Palmer provides a much healthier Cheesy Artichoke Spread with only 177 calories per serving.
  • Green Bean Casserole.  Many people get their serving of veggies by scooping a heap of this creamy vegetable dish onto their Thanksgiving plate.  But this “healthy” dish contains 161 calories per serving – and most of us eat more than a serving. Why not serve a beautiful platter of Marinated Grilled Vegetables instead?
  • Mashed Potatoes.  There are a few healthy ways to make mashed potatoes, but the traditional recipe made with cream and butter can total 237 calories or more.  A healthier alternative is Karen Palmer’s Fiesta Rice Salad.  The colorful salad “provides an array of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants to reduce one’s risk for stroke and cardiovascular diseases,” according to Palmer.  And it’s a perfect side dish for turkey!

Don’t be afraid to make some healthy changes to your regular Thanksgiving menu.  You may be able to inspire good eating habits for the rest of the year and create a new holiday traditions.

Want to know how to avoid other foods that aren’t good for you?  Check this list of Foods to Increase and Foods to Decrease.  And if you are looking for more weight loss advice, motivational advice and exercise help, checkout North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss, find us on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

What are Trans Fats?

file4671234819876The Food and Drug Association made a bold statement last week about trans fat in food.  In a statement to the press, the FDA said that “artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.”  Their warning can be a little bit scary, especially if you don’t know what trans fats are or where you might find them.

What are Trans Fats?

Trans fat can be found naturally in some foods.  But most trans fats, and the kind that doctors warn us about, are those that are found in processed foods.  They are partially hydrogenated oils that are used in foods to keep them from spoiling.

So why is trans fat bad for you?  Eating foods with trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat so we should consume as little as possible.

What Foods Contain Trans Fat?

So how do you find trans fat in your food?  It is often found in processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarine and coffee creamers.  Many cookies and crackers contain hydrogenated oils, as well.

It’s important, however, to be a smart consumer when you look for trans fat.  Many labels will advertise that they contain “no trans fat” when, in fact, they do. Coffee creamer is a good example.  While the label of some brands say that they contain no trans fat, if you check the ingredients list, you’ll see that many contain partially hydrogenated oil.  Manufacturers are allowed to say that their product is “trans-fat free” if it contains less than .5 grams per serving.  But since most of us use more than a single serving of creamer, we are likely to be getting more trans fat than we need.

Want to know how to avoid other foods that aren’t good for you?  Check this list of Foods to Increase and Foods to Decrease.  And if you are looking for more weight loss advice, motivational advice and exercise help, checkout North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss, find us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Burn Calories on Cross Country Skis

Did the recent snow inspire you to get outdoors and exercise? For many of us, it does just the opposite. Short, cold days often make us want to sit on the couch and eat.  But you may be able to inspire yourself if you grab a few friends and learn a new sport.  If you want to burn mega calories and go easy on your joints, cross country skiing is the perfect activity for you.

Fitness Benefits of Cross Country Skiing

Nordic skiing, also known as cross country skiing, can be a tough sport.  But like many activities, it can be performed at a moderate or even easy intensity level.  If you are new to the sport, you can look forward to these fitness and weight loss benefits:

  • Burns 300 to 500 calories per hour
  • Strengthens the muscles in the lower body
  • Helps develop core strength and stability skills
  • Provides a total body workout that is easy on the joints

Learn to Cross Country Ski

Now is the perfect time to learn to ski and the Twin Cities has plenty of park services and rental outlets that will allow you to try it out without investing too much money.  Call these locations or check online to get more information about trails and schedules.

Trails in Minneapolis

Trails in the suburbs:

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Exercise Tips for Diabetics

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, exercise can help you manage the disease.  According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes can benefit from a regular exercise program and from daily activities that involve physical activity.  But if you have never exercised before, how do you start?

To get an answer, I went to Darin Thom, DPT, the Interim Director of Rehabilitation at the Institute for Athletic Medicine.  The Institute offers a Diabetes Activity Program for people with type 2 diabetes or for anyone who needs help starting an exercise program to improve his or her health.  He gave me tips for diabetics who want to start an exercise program.

9 Exercise Tips for People with Diabetes

  1. Choose exercise that makes you feel good.  Find an activity that you enjoy and try not to view it as punishment. Of course, not everyone enjoys exercise while they are doing it, but you should choose an activity that makes you glad you did it once your session is complete.
  2. Set realistic expectations.  When setting goals, shoot for the low hanging fruit first and slowly progress to the top.  Set goals that are based on exercise behavior (for example, “I’ll walk for 20 minutes, 3 times per week”) rather than on a specific outcome like weight loss or reaching a certain pants or dress size.
  3. Give yourself credit.  Reward yourself and recognize your successes.  But remember that you’ll have both good and bad days.  You may find it helpful to keep a journal to monitor your progress.
  4. Identify roadblocks.  Think about the things that might stop you from completing your exercise session, If you can identify barriers, they become easier to eliminate so you can reach your goal.
  5. Be flexible.  Choose a type of exercise and workout times that fit your lifestyle, beliefs and attitudes.  It might also be helpful to have alternate activities for variety or for times when your regular exercise session isn’t possible.
  6. Understand exercise benefits. Know why you are exercising and what you hope to gain from sticking to your program.  Your doctor may be able to help you understand how exercise can improve your medical condition. But you may benefit from social and emotional benefits as well.  Being aware of these benefits will help you stick to the program.
  7. Get expert advice. Discuss guidelines and recommendations with your physical therapist and/or physician.  Start slowly and progress gradually over time.  Modest levels of activity can be quite effective in achieving health, social and psychological benefits.
  8. Set a schedule in advance and stick to it. Not sure when you’ll have time to exercise?  Use our downloadable Exercise Time Finder to find blocks of time where you can schedule healthy physical activity. Post your schedule where you can see it so it serves as a reminder of your commitment.
  9. Find a partner to exercise with you. Connect with others in your neighborhood, your work environment, your church or your community.  You’re more likely to stick to your plan if you have an exercise buddy.

Diabetes Activity Program – What to Expect

If you want to learn more about the Diabetes Activity Program contact the Institute for Athletic Medicine or speak to your physician about getting a referral.  For some patients, losing weight is a benefit of the program.  But Thom says that the goal is not necessarily weight loss, but rather improvements in the way each patient is able to move through typical daily activities.

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Get Weight Loss Support During the Holidays

Get support to lose weight.

Get support to lose weight.

The holidays are a tough time for people who are trying to lose weight.  Not only are many social gatherings centered around food, but many times family and friends aren’t supportive about your weight loss program.  So what’s the best way to get the support you need to stay on track with your diet?  The first step is to ask for help.

3 Ways to Ask for Diet Support

  • Select an ally.  You may have a fellow co-worker or neighbor who is trying to lose weight during the holidays. It could be helpful to connect with them during the holidays to swap strategies, recipes and offer support. But you may also want to choose one friend or family member at each gathering to help you stick to your diet plan.  Have a private chat with that person before the event and ask them to remind you of your commitment and help keep you focused on your weight loss goal.
  • Be specific. When you ask for help, try to be specific about the ways in which your friend can offer support.  For example, maybe your friend would be willing to go for a walk while others are enjoying pre-dinner snacks in front of the television. The party host might be willing to offer lower calorie options at meal-time or put yours on the table if you bring something along. 
  • Have a plan.  You could arrive at your holiday gathering and hope for the best.  But you’re more likely to stick to your weight loss plan if you create a specific strategy for each event.  Karen Palmer, a registered dietitian at North Memorial, offers several great tips for holiday weight management.  Use her ideas to create a plan that you can share with your ally.

You can also use social media to stay motivated through the holiday season.  Connect with  us on Facebook and Twitter to get daily tips, advice and support.

 

Quick Tips Prevent or Manage Diabetes

stethoscopeNovember is Diabetes Awareness Month.  Have you been diagnosed with the condition?  If not, do you know if you are at risk for the disease? If you’re not sure, you can take this quick Diabetes Risk Test created by the American Diabetes Association.  Their website also offers tips and advice about living with diabetes.

You’ll also find plenty of advice closer to home at North Memorial Weight Loss.  Learn how to get help from a registered dietitian, watch short videos to help you start an exercise program or download the Meal Planning Guidelines for Patients with Diabetes.

Looking for more information?  Check out these recent blog posts, including videos and tips for managing and preventing diabetes.

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.