Obesity Center Clinical Director Offers Tips for Eating Healthy During Holiday Season
While individuals cannot always control what’s served at holiday gatherings, Robert Kushner, MD, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and clinical director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity (NCCO), says people can take responsibility for themselves and their own lifestyle choices by paying attention to the kind of food they contribute to a party and by thinking ahead about food choices before entering.
Some of the higher calorie foods to avoid (or take small bites of) are hors d’oeuvres such as cheesy artichoke dips and stuffed pastries; mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing or candied sweet potato sides; and pecan pie-like desserts.
Instead of consuming these high fat foods, Kushner suggests choosing healthier options like hummus dip with vegetables or fresh shrimp appetizers; sides such as roasted vegetables or a baked sweet potato; white meat turkey; and chocolate dipped strawberries to complete the meal.
Maintaining healthy eating habits during the holiday season is key to entering the new year on the right path. To lead a healthier life in 2010, Kushner always suggests the following behaviors:
- Get enough sleep. Feeling rested will help you make better diet and exercise choices during the day.
- Quit smoking. Set a quit date, clear your environment of temptations, and use aids, such as gum and patches.
- Be physically active. Commit to walk briskly for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. This can be accumulated throughout the day — 10 minutes in the morning, at lunch time and in the evening add up.
- Become a calorie conscious consumer. Read food labels and look up menu items for restaurants you frequent. When eating out, split and entrÃ©e or take half of your meal home. Be aware of high calorie levels in fried foods, creamy dishes and dresses, cheese sauces, or toppings and rich desserts.
- Take a new look at your plate. Try to fill a quarter with protein, a quarter with whole grains, and half with fruits and vegetables.