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The Mackie Report 

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

During the holidays, many of us tend to put our diets on hiatus and overindulge. Then we justify those indulgences by vowing that our New Year's resolution will be to take off the unwanted pounds we just added.

There are things you can do to keep from gaining those extra pounds, yet you don't have to starve yourself in the process. It's just a matter of watching what and when you eat.

What causes many of us to gain extra weight are foods laden with fats, especially saturated fats. Most deadly in that category are foods deep fried in fatty oils. Stay away from those. Not only are they bad for your waistline, they are also high in LDL cholesterol -- the bad kind. At most Christmas parties, there will be platters of all kinds of "finger foods"; avoid anything covered with batter. Most party trays have raw or cooked vegetables. You'll do all right to eat the carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms and other vegetables. If you put salad dressing or dip on them, make it a low-sugar, low-fat type. Some types of cheeses are OK if you don't overdo it. In most cases, you won't know whether those little cubes of Colby or Monterey Jack or cheddar are made from part-skim or low-fat milk, but it's safe to bet that they are not.

Favor meats? Go for lean cuts, those with the least amount of fat on them. If the party has a server slicing ham and roast beef to order, ask them to trim off as much fat as possible and don't binge on these items.

Desserts. That's where you and your waistline can get into the biggest trouble. That incredibly sweet, homemade pecan (or apple or cherry) pie and irresistible bread pudding with hot vanilla rum sauce may be hard to pass up, but that's exactly what you may have to do. Unless they're specially prepared from low-sugar recipes, they're usually loaded with sugar and fat. Those of you with low metabolism rates may not be able to burn these sweets fast enough to prevent them from becoming permanent extra baggage. If you're diabetic -- or even borderline diabetic -- those sweets can be problematic as well.

If you must indulge your sweet tooth, there should be plenty of alternatives on most holiday party tables, such as strawberries, honeydew melon or cantaloupe slices, seedless grapes, sliced oranges, or pineapple chunks. They're sweet and more nutritious for you. Forget about going back for seconds; one round should do it for you.

Fruit juice, unsweetened iced tea or one or two glasses of red wine will help you digest your food more smoothly than sugar-laden carbonated beverages or coffee.

Eat and drink moderately this holiday season and you won't be walking away from your parties with that full, bloated, uncomfortable and unhealthy feeling. And you won't have to lose those unwanted pounds after New Year's. If you don't put them on to begin with, you'll have nothing to worry about.

My family, my staff and I wish all of you a safe, happy and especially a healthy holiday season!

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