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Ingredients key to reducing calories as a way to keep holiday pounds off

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POSTED December 19, 2012 5:33 p.m.

For many, dieting is a necessary, however unsavory, fact of life. But when it comes to the holidays even the most veteran dieters can lose their way. Because the holidays come once a year, most dieters justify their actions by stating that certain fatty dishes they enjoy are only available during these holidays, and often abuse the privilege they grant themselves.

To avoid stuffing yourself, and the holiday turkey, with unwholesome trans fats, Connie Diekman, former president of the American Dietetic Association, suggests lightening up the ingredients used in special dishes.

 “No one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower calorie ingredients,” Diekman said. Diekman suggests using fat-free chicken broth to make gravy and baste the turkey, reducing oil and butter whenever possible, and using plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, such as mashed potatoes, or any sort of casserole.

If it is dessert you crave this holiday season, Diekman suggests sugar substitutes or fruit purees instead of traditional oil found in baked goods.

If you are not cooking this holiday season, and have no control over the ingredients you will be consuming this Thanksgiving, it is advised that you should take only what you really want to eat.

“Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long,” Diekman suggests.

She stresses that no one wants to miss out on traditional foods. And you don’t have to; fill your plate with small portions of your favorite fatty foods, but skip the need for seconds.

“If you keep your portions small, you can enjoy whatever you like,” Diekman said.

Between eating meals and sipping drinks with family and friends, the calories add up quickly. Sometimes, dieters believe they are on the right track, but have consumed too much to achieve any real progress. Keeping a food journal not only tracks how much you’ve been eating, but provides a guide for splurging later in the day, week, or year.

If you don’t wish to carry a bulky journal, or don’t know how many calories you are suggested to consume a day, there are several free apps available for smart phones or iPads that track calories, and even estimate how many calories you should be eating in order to reach your targeted goal.

What is important, however, is that the holiday dieters should not be burdened with trying to reach a certain weight loss goal. Instead of focusing your attention this holiday season on eating, focus on advancing your expectations socially; tear yourself away from food and reestablish yourself outside the kitchen towards an engaging conversation in another room. Taking breaths between bites, and spacing out how much you consume at once will keep you full. The distance from the food will also help hinder your eating binge, and instead focus on the most important aspect of the holiday seasons: giving thanks.

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