|Maintaining a healthy weight|
|Tuesday, 23 November 2010 13:46|
As thoughts turn to the holiday season, visions of special cakes and cookies take shape and plans for celebrations begin. This time of year, though, can become every bit as stressful as it is fun. As you make lists and start your baking, it is important to keep good health in mind.
If not kept in check, traditional sweets of the season can contribute to weight gain in children and adults alike. Well-documented health risks of being overweight include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and liver, gallbladder and coronary heart disease.
To help you keep your family fit, Lori Callahan, nursing administrator at Brown Mackie College - Greenville, offers practical tips on maintaining a healthy weight during the holidays. "Nutrition is integrated throughout our nursing program," she says.
"Preparing for celebrations can be stressful," Callahan adds. "We're bound to feed our soul by snacking. It can be a vicious cycle. We run short on time and head for a fast food restaurant." Eating fast food, however, doesn't necessarily mean you will get a high-calorie meal. "Restaurants offer choices," she says. "You can ask for a fruit cup instead of fries, and forego the soda in favor of milk or juice. If you must have the burger, choose the kids' meal with smaller portions."
Substitution tricks can come in handy in the kitchen, too. Callahan shares practices recommended to patients who are placed on restricted diets. "When a recipe calls for sour cream, try using plain yogurt instead. Prepare dishes with low-fat or non-fat cheese. You may not even notice the difference," she says. When a cake recipe calls for three eggs, Callahan suggests using one whole egg and just the whites of the other two.
This is a good time to open your mind to new experiences. Make a meatloaf with half turkey and half beef. Or try tacos with skinless chicken or grilled fish instead of beef. "Half of something good is better than a full serving of something that's not so good for you," Callahan says.
Holiday parties always offer a wide variety of foods that won't benefit your waistline. "Don't show up hungry," Callahan advises. "Graze on healthy snacks before digging into the fats. And don't pay attention to the old rule about eating everything on your plate. What we think of as a normal serving size is three to four times the amount of an actual normal serving size. If you read labels, serving sizes will alarm you. It's OK to leave food on your plate."
In addition to extra sweets, the holidays expose us to more alcohol, which is high in calories. "Go ahead and drink a glass of wine," Callahan says, "but follow it up with juice or water. Drinking to excess can cause immediate discomfort, and often results in a fatigue factor the next day."
Every nursing student learns that exercise can go a long way in staying healthy. "Raising your heart rate a bit decreases stress levels. Weather permitting, I recommend walking every day during your lunch hour," Callahan says. "Find someone to go with you. We tend to go further and walk longer if we have someone to chat with. Thirty minutes of breaking a sweat every day is an ideal exercise regimen. But even 15 minutes a day is good."
With an eye toward good health for her own family, Callahan keeps ingredients on hand for smoothie drinks. "They're easy to make," she says. "Throw some frozen strawberries into the blender and add yogurt or even cottage cheese and some lemonade or orange juice. It's a good way to get your morning going. Or pour the mixture into ice trays and pop one out for snack."
Consult with a physician before beginning any exercise or dieting regimen.
In general, maintaining a healthy weight during the holidays comes down to scrutinizing food choices, exercising and decreasing high-risk behaviors. When the decorations come down and you step on the scale, you won't necessarily want to cry. (ARA)
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 16:56|