We are in the midst of the holiday season and it seems like it is one dinner party after another. How do I enjoy these special gatherings when I know I cannot afford to gain any more weight or I have to keep my blood pressure and cholesterol under control and/or my doctor tells me that I am pre-diabetic? There are some great ways to enjoy these parties and still keep these problem areas in check.
The Number One problem my clients have is arriving too hungry to a party where they find it difficult to make good food choices- everything looks delicious when you are starving. At least an hour before you arrive you should have a substantial snack like 12 almonds and an apple to take the edge off of your hunger. Almonds are available unsalted and when limited to a dozen are reasonable in fat while the delicious winter apples have the least amount of sugar of all fruits.
The appetizers are killers. They are usually laden with salt, fat and hundreds of calories. We all have experienced getting filled up on appetizers and then continue eating the meal anyway. I am always explaining that bread and crackers along with processed frozen items typically served at appetizer time have 200 mg of sodium per serving along with its friend, the cheese. A low sodium diet now is set at 1500 mg per day so you need to substitute the endless servings of bread and crackers at appetizer time for baked potatoes, legumes, brown rice, whole wheat couscous, quinoa, barley etc. which contain zero salt. Why not bring these to the party or fat free unsalted potato and corn chips available at TJs that can be served with lite dips. Veggies are great served with salsa or homemade hummus which will contain less oil and salt. Or consider bringing an appetizer like shrimp with cocktail sauce. You can have some shrimp if you have high cholesterol. Take one or two crackers with a topping and save your calories and salt for your meal to come. You must simply walk away and tell yourself how this is best for your health.
For the meal, the best approach is to walk around the table to see what food is available. For your entrée build the meal around protein and veggies choices and then allow yourself a serving of the decadent escalloped or au gratin potatoes that you absolutely love. Typically, the sliced meats and veggies without sauces and green salads are lite on salt and fat, unlike the prepared items. Please stay away from the bread and biscuits that are full of salt, fat and concentrated calories. Allow yourself a piece of yummy dessert that will end up being less calories than all the bread and crackers you might have consumed. I often see clients who are pre-diabetic eat too many starches because they think that they cannot eat sweets or a lot of fruit. I often surprise them when they learn they can have a dessert each day and 2 servings of fruit if they will have starches that are 100% whole wheat such as Thomas English muffins, La Tortilla Factory tortillas and AkMak crackers to name a few. Whole wheat products contain protein and fiber and will keep the blood sugar stable and prevent you from being hungry all the time.
Fruit should be eaten like a dessert with a meal. If they are eaten on an empty stomach or in between meals they will cause a spike in blood sugar and then a quick drop in blood sugar along with the arrival of a false hunger. Often my clients are astounded by how many calories there are in fruits. The problem is in the store there are no food labels to refer to. So, if you can avoid loading up on fruit you will save yourself hundreds of calories so you can have a reasonable piece of that cheesecake you are crazy about
I consider alcohol in the dessert category, especially the eggnog and holiday drinks. To slow yourself down I suggest having a sparkling water next to your drink so that you can alternate sips and cut your intake in half.
Lastly, please make time to exercise on the days when there is a party. Remember if you burn a few hundred calories exercising it will certainly help balance the extra calories you will be consuming.
Linda is glad to inform you that her services often are covered by insurance
Linda is located in her office in Alamo. She welcomes your call to discuss your nutrition concerns. Please visit www.LindaRD.com for more information, past articles, helpful tips, recipes and Linda’s blog or call (925) 855-0150