Friday, December 1, 2006

Nutritious Eggnog Recipe

With the holiday season comes traditions, family gatherings, and of course, lots of eating and drinking. It’s no wonder that we tend to put on weight during the holidays. Though rich foods like sweet potato casserole and stuffing pack on the calories, we oftentimes forget that our beverages may be sabotaging our weight management efforts as well. One such figure predator is eggnog. Though this creamy beverage is delicious and comforting, one cup can add an additional 350 calories, and who can stop at one? This holiday season let’s make eggnog a friend, not a foe, and trim down the calories.

Serves 6.

5 cups skim milk
8 oz evaporated skim milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
1 cup egg substitute
Sweetener to taste*
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rum extract
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon

  1. In a saucepan, gently heat the skim milk, evaporated milk, egg substitute and sweetener over a low flame, stirring regularly until the mixture has thickened.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat. Add in the vanilla, rum, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
  4. Pour into 6 cups and sprinkle on additional nutmeg and cinnamon.

Calories: ~130 (You save 220 calories)!

*If you prefer real sugar to artificial sweetener, measure carefully how much sugar you are adding. Each additional teaspoon of sugar adds 15 calories.

Not much of a cook? Try a ready-prepared light eggnog. Vitasoy’s Holly Nog is just 120 calories and Silk Nog is 180 calories per cup.

Tis the Season to Gain Weight?

A study published in 2000 in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that there is indeed weight gain during the six weeks that include Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Nearly 200 subjects were followed for three periods: preholiday (from late September to mid-November), holiday (mid-November to early January), and postholiday (from mid-January to early March). The researchers found that there was a significant increase in weight during the holiday period of about one pound. Though this amount of weight gain is less than what is commonly suspected, it is interesting to note that of the individuals who were overweight or obese, 14% gained more than 5 pounds during this period. In addition, among all the participants, weight gain during the six week holiday season explained over half of annual weight gain. Therefore, it seems that holiday weight gain may in fact be an important contributor to overall weight gain and to the rising prevalence of obesity.

During this holiday season, keep our top ten list in mind, and avoid the extra holiday pounds.

Eating Healthy for the Holidays

Holiday time can be difficult, with lots of temptations and calorie-laden feasts. Between the holiday sweets lying around the office, preparing the holiday meals, and then attending the holiday parties and dinners, it seems almost impossible to avoid putting on holiday weight. But, just because you’re trying to eat healthfully, doesn’t mean that you need to avoid the festivities or accept the extra pounds. With a little planning, it is possible to maintain your weight during the holiday season.

  1. Watch your portions! Divide your plate in half. Fill one half with vegetables. Divide the remaining half of your plate in half again. Fill one part with protein and the remaining part with the starch at the meal.
  2. Prioritize. Holiday meals usually have lots of foods that you will find appealing. But are there foods that specifically define the holiday for you, i.e., candied yams or honey glazed ham? Pass on the usual calorically expensive fare like chips and dip, and opt for the holiday specific food as your treat at the meal.
  3. Avoid skipping meals. Though we are sometimes tempted to “save calories”, this tactic can lead to overeating. In fact, it may even be helpful to eat something healthy before you head out to a meal, such as yogurt or a small meal replacement bar, in order to curb your appetite when high-calorie foods are abundant.
  4. Dessert is not a meal. It is a supplement to the end of a balanced meal. Try to choose the fruit or sorbet option. If that dense chocolate cake is calling your name, take a small piece, but then stop. It is ok to treat yourself (as long as it is in moderation), and there is no point in feeling guilty when you are eating something you love. Just remind yourself that there will be even more holiday eating.
  5. Increase exercise. Since you will be eating more during the holidays, increase your physical activity. Go out for a stroll after a big meal, or hit up an exercise class the morning before a holiday dinner.
  6. Watch what you’re drinking. Don’t waste your calories on beverages. Avoid sodas and juices, and beware of alcohol. Alcohol not only contains empty calories, but it can also further stimulate the appetite. A good festive alternative is some sparkling water with a lemon twist – sparkling water has zero calories.
  7. Make healthy choices. Try to choose the steamed or roasted vegetables over the green bean casserole. Choose a baked potato or rice over stuffing.
  8. Conversation is calorie free! Talk to the people around you and slow down while you’re eating. If the holiday party is buffet style, don’t rush straight for the food table. Greet your friends and family, and settle in before even looking at the food. Remember, these meals tend to be long. Rather than inhaling your food and then going back for more, try to make your plate last the whole meal.
  9. Be a host(ess) with the most(ess). If you’re making the meal, provide some healthy alternatives like baked sweet potatoes, instead of candied yams. At the start of the meal pass the food around once and then place the serving dishes on a side table. This way, you will be less likely to mindlessly take more food during the meal. And don’t forget, you can send home leftovers with your guests. (If you are not the host, but the dinner is pot-luck, bring a healthy dish that you know you can eat, like a big salad or a raw veggie platter with a yogurt or cottage cheese based dip).
  10. Maintain. Thanksgiving through New Years is a very difficult time when it comes to eating. Don’t expect to lose weight during this time period or you may be in for disappointment. Rather, focus your efforts on maintaining your weight during the holidays, and on enjoying your time with your friends and family.