Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Perfect Cold-Weather Food

In the winter, I live on soup. (It's usually salad in the summer.) I've always suspected it helps me eat less. This knowledge has finally been validated. In a study of yearlong dieters, those who regularly consumed soup lost more weight than those who didn't. Broth-based soup, not cream-based is filling, with a low calorie content. I also think it may have something to do with hydration.

My personal favorites are the vegetable soup at Panera Bread (150 calories per serving) and Wolfgang Puck's Chicken Tortilla (170 calories per cup).

I try to avoid the crackers due to the trans fat.

What are your favorites?

Photo from Dinewise.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It Is Only A Pound...

     After reading an excellent post over at the Disordered Times, I feel compelled to clarify the reasoning behind my previous post. While a one pound weight gain is not a big deal, people tend to gain and keep it on, year after year. And it's much easier to prevent than to lose. 

     If you suffer from disordered eating, realize that a one pound weight gain this year does not necessarily mean you'll do the same every year.... if you're struggling now, or are newly recovered, this year will present new challenges that you will be better equipped to deal with years down the road.

Have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain While Home from College


     It's that time of the year again when newspapers begin publishing their holiday weight gain stories. They're always full of tips on how to prevent the weight the typical American gains during the season. (Average weight gain is actually only about one pound, not five like many believe.) But most of these tips are aimed at those actually doing the cooking. Chicago's "Daily Herald" has an opinion column out with some advice.

     The article says:
     "If you've been watching what you eat and have either lost weight or kept it off this year, map your strategy now for navigating the treacherous stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year's." This tip applies to college students. It's always a good idea to plan early.

     "Elevate your activity levels: Starting now, park farther from the mall or supermarket entrance. It'll be easier to find a spot, and while you're walking in you can plan out your shopping." This tip is the single most important thing one can do to prevent holiday weight gain. During Thanksgiving break, I have the all the time I need to exercise.  While our family members are rushing to the mall after work to buy presents, we have all day to go to the gym or go on walks with older family members. 

     When shopping, it's also a good idea to eat a filling breakfast before you go, and plan where you'll eat lunch. At mall food courts, Chick-fila or Subway are decent options. 

     "Volunteer at a local shelter or community organization. During this season, and with this economy, groups need volunteers to do everything from wrap gifts to serving and even delivering meals. You'll get a true holiday feeling when you help others and burn some extra calories." If you're staying in town for the holidays, this is excellent advice. But not if you're going home for the holidays. And going home is often where the real trouble starts... In my small town, it's so boring. To combat this boredom, I try to make plans with friends from high school I don't see very often.

     "Eat before you eat: Before you go to a holiday party, eat something light, like an apple or pear (they're both in season). You won't be hungry when you arrive and you'll make better eating decisions when your stomach isn't rumbling." Good point. However, realize that an apple or pear isn't going to satisfy a craving for pumpkin pie. If you're really craving something, allow yourself to have it and prevent the craving from returning with a vengeance later. 

     It's also worth noting that on Thanksgiving day, I am always the only one in my family who eats breakfast... and I'm also usually the only one who doesn't go back for seconds and thirds, as well. 

     "Don't diet on Jan. 1: If you make eating decisions thinking that you're going to go back to or begin a weight-loss program after the first of the year, you're giving yourself permission to eat too much now. So get those thoughts out of your head right now." In my disordered eating days, I was always setting a date. Decide to be healthy now, not to be skinny then.

     "Think whole grains: Making stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner? Consider using whole grain, whole wheat bread cubes." The problem with the holidays for college kids is that we're usually not the ones making the dinner. Sure, we can make suggestions, but is Grandma really going to listen? It's probably a more realistic idea to fill most of your plate with vegetables and turkey and eat starches like mashed potatoes and biscuits in moderation.

     If you are cooking, WebMD suggests
  • Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy.
  • Use fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.
  • Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
  • Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
     Consider steaming your vegetables instead of having a green bean casserole. Or a green bean salad. Choose pumpkin pie over more calorie-dense, nutritionally-lacking desserts. 

     "Go skinny dipping: Bring a platter of colorful, fresh vegetables and low-calorie dip to the party." College kids are going to different kinds of parties than older people. But the last time I had a party, I actually did provide a vegetable tray and it was actually a big hit.

     "Pass on the nog: A jigger (1.5 ounces) of any 80-proof liquor (gin, rum, brandy, whiskey) delivers almost 100 calories - before adding any mix. A cup of spiked eggnog delivers an astounding 400 calories." Eggnog is just asking for it, unless you really love it and want to indulge. If you don't have a strong preference, a few glasses of wine is not going to derail your diet. 

     "If you're still hungry after your first pass, wait 15 minutes before returning to the buffet."
Of course.

     If you've dealt with disordered eating, and going home is a trigger for you, begin a plan of attack now. What will you do if you feel the urge to binge? Keep yourself busy by making plans for shopping and movies with high school friends. Ask your parents to have healthy foods available for you. If I didn't ask, mine never would, and being surrounded by the junk foods they normally keep in the kitchen makes me nervous. Don't feel obligated to spend the whole week at home if it makes you uncomfortable.

     So what are some other good tips for the holidays?

Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC