Holiday Health: Keeping Treats & Sweets While Dieting
By Amy Lignor
Can you have yourself a “merry little Christmas” while watching ones who eat mounds of fudge, drink down egg nog, and sit down at a family Christmas dinner and load a platter up so high that it actually looks like they are feeding ALL of Santa’s reindeer parked on top of the roof? Many will cry just thinking about it. They are rare, but those people who eat everything and never gain an ounce always seem to have the ability to show up at a holiday party or event right in front of us…the ones who eat a Hershey’s kiss and somehow gain far more than the 22 calories it supposedly has in it.
Now, it is important to note that, yes, there is a ‘Dessert Lover’s Diet’ where you could lose up to five pounds in a month. There are others that claim even more. But what’s really the case is that when we are trying to watch our weight, our cranium automatically tells us that sweets and treats are forbidden. In fact, you can almost see a line of CAUTION tape stretched over the platters when you walk close to them. In truth (and, yes, this is true), doctors say that forbidding everything that is good, every little dessert that offers a happy smile, is actually a bad thing for the human body as well as for losing weight. Why? Because the brain feels deprived. The point is not having a dessert; the point is not consuming four of them.
If your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and the “good side of the Force” when it comes to fats, then choosing to have a dessert each and every day is just fine. Big enough to satisfy the craving and small enough where the calorie intake doesn’t skyrocket.
Desserts can be rich in “bad” fats, like the ever-present butter. Which means that having meals that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – like fish – can offset the issue. Denying the body sweets is not the best plan when wanting to stay on track with a diet. And there are a variety of okay treats to choose from that actually allow less than 100 calories.
“Tis the Season” season brings on that ultimate fear of doing things wrong. Not fair, considering it is a time to be with family and enjoy oneself, not glare across the table at the one with the platter overflowing with food. One of the biggest things to avoid are actually drinks. The holiday-themed coffees run extremely high in fat and cholesterol, not to mention calories. But just by sticking to your own coffee and simply adding a drizzle of vanilla or peppermint extract to it, you save hundreds of calories. If your mind needs to believe that Starbucks is at work, buy one of those mugs and pour the less-calorie coffee into it.
When it comes to holiday baking, there are those temptations that you want to “test” so that the people you plan to serve
really like it Just remember, testing too much of that cookie dough will have you spending way more dough on the gym once you make (or re-make for the hundredth time) that New Year’s resolution.
You can cut the fat and calories without sacrificing taste during the holidays. If you use half the sugar amount the recipe calls for in, say, a fruit pie, you will save almost 750 calories for every cup of sugar you do not apply.
When it comes to cookies, use a mixture of half whole-wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose flour. (Guests won’t notice
the difference.) In your cheesecake that everyone is coming to the party for, substitute part-skim ricotta cheese for cream cheese and cut the fat by close to 60 grams for each cup you use. Brownies? Of course you can have them, just use pureed pumpkin instead of oil and for every half-cup of oil you eliminate, you’ll save more than 900 calories and 100 grams of fat.
See? There are ways to make sure that this holiday season is enjoyable, while also making sure the scale stays the same – or even lowers. Again, it is the New Year where you need to speak your resolution, but if you’ve already learned the ins-and-outs of cutting calories and still enjoying treats, then this January 1st won’t be so difficult.