By SUSAN BROWNING - Special to the Sun-Gazette
The holiday season will soon be upon us once again.
This time of year is abundant with many food related mazes that we must navigate. The word "feast" is from the Latin festus, meaning joy, but this often is not how many describe themselves after finishing their holiday or party meal - stuffed, huge and bloated is there, but not usually joyous.
Many Americans will gain weight over the holidays, and research proves that the majority won't take it off.
This is avoidable. Look at the following menus with their calorie breakdown:
Belly buster menu Fat busters menu
5 ounces with skin Turkey 3 ounces, no skin
1/2 cup Stuffing 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Green beans 1/2 cup
1/2 cup Mashed potatoes 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Gravy 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup Tossed salad 1/2 cup
2 1/2 tablespoons Salad dressing 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup Cranberry sauce 2 tablespoons
4-inch slice Pumpkin pie 2-inch slice
2 tablespoons Whipped cream 1 tablespoons
1,500 calories Total calories 750 calories
The only difference here is portion sizes.
No recipes were changed or low-fat, low-sugar substitutions made.
This is a key concept in managing your weight. Watching how much you eat. You don't have to give up your favorite foods; there are no forbidden foods as long as you eat them in moderation.
Other tips that can help you are:
Eat slowly; it takes the stomach 20 minutes to send the message to your brain that you are full.
Do some calorie "banking." Two or three days prior to a special event, cut back 100 to 200 calories each day so that when the special day arrives you have 200 to 600 calories saved that you can withdraw from for a splurge.
Be more active. If a 150-pound person walks at a normal pace for 15 minutes on a flat surface, they can burn 126 calories. If they do this twice a day for a total of 30 minutes, they burn 252 calories. Now do this consistently two to three days before the feast and you have between 500 and 750 calories at your disposal to spend how you decide.
Alcoholic beverages contain a lot of extra calories so be aware. You can blend champagne and other wines with juice or club soda to cut the calories and switch to a light beer. Or make every other drink a non-calorie one.
Cutting the sugar in most recipes by half makes no change in the food itself but saves calories. Experiment beforehand.
Replace the fat or shortening in your baking recipes with the equivalent amount of applesauce or baby food prunes. Sunsweet has a fruit puree that also is very convenient. If oil is the only liquid in the recipe use half applesauce and half buttermilk.
Use chicken or turkey stock that has been de-fatted. This can be your own or store bought. Skim the fat before using. You can then use this to baste the turkey instead of butter or moisten stuffing and make gravy.
Replace whole milk in recipes with low fat or skim milk.
For snacks, offer sliced raw vegetables with low-fat dip or sliced fruit with low-fat yogurt for dipping.
Salsa is an excellent dip and you can make your own low-fat tortilla chips by cutting soft tacos into triangles, sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and baking off in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
The holiday season is full of feasts that bring joy and make memories.
Hopefully, with these tips, you see how you can bake your holiday cake and eat it, too. Enjoy!
Browning, a registered dietitian, is coordinator of outreach programs for Susquehanna Health.
Her column is published on the last Wednesday of each month.