Director of Nutrition, eMbody Fitness Clubs
Certified Personal Trainer
Eating healthfully and practicing proper portion control can be challenging even at the best of times. During the holiday season, it can be brutal or worse, nonexistent. This time of year is synonymous with over indulging and over-abundance. Most of us have experienced that “oh so subtle way of loosening our pants so that we can breathe” move on more than one occasion. Even the most active, health-conscience people find end of November to the beginning of the New Year challenging. And forget about starting a diet plan, feel good if you can maintain! A typical holiday meal can cost you as much as >3500 calories and approximately 147 grams of fat. That is roughly 1,000 calories more than most men require and almost double the fat grams. If you do the crime, the time you have to put in to “burn” those extras off can be long and arduous. An average 130 lb. woman, walking at 4.0 mph would burn roughly 157 calories in 30 minutes. Who has time to spend 3 hours on a treadmill? Here are some tips to keep you on your healthy plan and avoid the extra-long exercise trap. If the average Canadian is gaining between one to five pounds during the holidays, let’s not be average! Try incorporating these strategies now and who knows, they may be your favourite New Year Resolutions:
1. Practice Proper Portion Control. Confused as to what a proper portion is? Consult one of our staff Registered Holistic Nutritionists. Choose the smallest plate size available and fill half with fresh vegetables and fruit. Save ¼ for some lean protein and the last ¼ for a small treat!
2. Don't skip workouts. Ever. If you know you have a party or family get together later in the day, get to the gym for some cardio and strength training beforehand.
3. Enjoy Yourself but Use Moderation. Mindless munching while chatting at a party can cost you half a day’s worth of calories! Overeating at one meal does not give you license to blow the whole day either. Moderation means enjoying a few small indulgences but have standards! Save those extra calories for something that you LOVE. If it is not a 10/10 ... skip it and find something that is.
4. Don't stand, sit or stay close to the buffet table. Get what you need and move away from the temptation. Keep a glass of sparkling water in your hand and sip, sip, sip.
5. Don't skip meals. Ever. Start your day with a healthy breakfast that includes protein to set your metabolism in motion. “Saving” calories for later in the day will wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and set you up for cravings and potentially overeating.
6. Be Mindful and keep a Holiday Food Journal. Studies have proven that food journaling can help you be more mindful of what you eat. Hate to write? Use technology to keep you on track. There are so many free food tracking apps. My favourite is myfitnesspal!
Crime Cost to you
Licking the spatula from the cake frosting 75 calories
Handful of bread cubes that you need to make stuffing 15 calories
Big finger swipes in the whip cream for the pumpkin pie 26 calories
Sample a few dried cranberries before adding to stuffing 25 calories
Small cube of cheese as you set out the cheese and cracker tray 57 calories
First glass of red wine 125 calories
Five innocent, toasted pecans – the rest go on the pie crushed 49 calories
Testing a small chunk of dark meat from a juicy thigh 48 calories
Getting in an extra serving of green beans 9 calories
Eat the “broken” piece of hot dinner rolls-go on, eat the roll! 109 calories
Second glass of red wine 125 calories
GRAND TOTAL OF CALORIES CONSUMED BEFORE THE MEAL: 663 CALORIES
Basic Holiday Party Appetizers:
1 cup of eggnog 345 calories
1 mixed cocktail 250 calories
1 celery stalk with cream cheese 45 calories
½ cup mixed raw vegetables 25 calories
5 large olives 90 calories
½ cup mixed candied nuts 440 calories
½ cup fresh fruit 60 calories
1 oz potato chips 150 calories
1 oz spinach dip 53 calories
3 medium-sized shrimp + cocktail sauce 80 calories
1 potato latke w/ 1 Tbsp sour cream 190 calories
Below are two healthy side dishes that would go well with either grilled fish or fowl.
Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots:
(Adapted from Cooking Light 2010)
Heart-healthy olive oil adds flavour and smoothness to this recipe. With no cream, butter or even margarine, you have saved yourself from extra saturated fat. These are creamy and delicious and add great colour to any meal. Bonus nutrients: fibre, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A
2 Tablespoons plus 2 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 sprigs of fresh or 1 Tablespoon dried Rosemary
½ Tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add shallots to pan, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar and cook 20 minutes more – until golden. Cover sweet potatoes with enough water and bring to boil. Cook until tender – roughly 10 to 12 minutes. Drain. Beat with a mixer. (TIP: save some of the cooking water to use to thin potatoes if necessary.) Add rosemary, salt, pepper and beat until blended. Spoon the mashed into serving bowl and top with shallots. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tsp. Olive oil.
Spiced Pomegranate Barley or Quinoa:
2 Tsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1.5 cups of rinsed whole-grain pearl barley or quinoa
3 cups of either low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
½ Tsp cumin
¼ Tsp nutmeg
1 large Bay leaf
½ cup toasted pistachios
2 green onions
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Heat the oil in a large pot – over medium low. Add ginger. Stir often and add barley to combine. Add broth, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cumin, nutmeg. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently until barley is tender – check package for cooking time.
Remove seeds from pomegranate* and set aside. Slice green onions into thin strips. When barley is finished, fluff with fork. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Add seeds, pistachios and green onions to cooked barley.
*Dave Young Fruit Market sells pomegranate seeds already to use or eat!