For many people, this time of year involves festive (and fattening) dinner parties and get-togethers. If you’re worried about unwanted holiday pounds, Bettina Seidman, a dietitian for West Virginia University’s Dining Services, has some practical advice on how to eat right.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean fish and poultry and nuts remain the healthiest food choices. Seidman says a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole intact grains have been shown to have a protective effect against high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and some cancers.
These foods offer fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Lean fish and nuts provide protein with a host of heart-healthy fats while lean poultry offers high quality protein without high saturated fat.
While at holiday parties, Seidman suggests to look for vegetable and fruit trays, whole grain breads and crackers, lean deli meats such as turkey breast and seafood such as shrimp cocktail and salmon.
Foods that should be consumed sparingly include red meats, sweets, refined carbohydrates, sodas and cheesy dishes. Refined carbohydrates include foods such as white breads, white pasta, pastries and white rice.
These foods offer little fiber and are quickly digested and absorbed increasing blood sugar and insulin levels as well as triglycerides. Sodas also have the same effect on the blood as refined grains and offer no nutrients other than calories.
Over a long period of time, these increase insulin and triglycerides can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Red meats, cheeses and pastries are calorically dense and contain a fair amount of saturated fats which have been linked to the development of heart disease.
“Of course, all food in moderation is the key to healthy eating at anytime not just during the holidays,”Seidman says.”To avoid holiday binging, don’t go to parties hungry. Drink 8-10 ounces of water and have a piece of fruit half an hour before the party. Remember to practice portion control and moderation while eating during your holiday celebrations so that they may be healthy, as well as festive.”
When choosing beverages, select flavored seltzer waters or just plain water over sodas and juices. Use common sense when consuming alcohol. Drink in moderationone or two drinks for men and one drink for women. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories and low in nutrients. Excessive consumption can not only lead to unnecessary weight gain, but also a host of other health problems.