Moderation and good genes provide clues to longevity

Bacon, Soda, and Longevity – What’s the Connection?

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

Did you see the headlines earlier this summer proclaiming the world’s oldest person eats bacon every day? The story caught my attention since bacon is one of those “guilty pleasure” foods we all enjoy, and we now have evidence that a 116 year old woman has been eating it every day!

There are many other things that may have contributed to this woman’s long life, such as her genetic heritage (her grandmother lived to be 117!). She also naps regularly, eats three meals a day and has a loving family.

As with most things in a long life, it’s never that simple – Spoiler alert: bacon is not the key to longevity!

The same holds true for headlines that say drinking soda can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. What’s missing from those unfounded statements is any evidence from randomized clinical trials to demonstrate cause and effect.

Like longevity, the research on what does cause these illnesses reveals a strong genetic component. They are also influenced by numerous environmental factors and lifestyle behaviors. It’s just not a simple matter of sipping a sugar-sweetened beverage or not. In fact, our overall dietary patterns   matter much more than any single food we may eat.

I’m sure it will make many people happy to know they can still enjoy bacon and their favorite soft drink and live a long life. The lesson here is that it’s not the bacon that will guarantee you’ll reach your 100th birthday or the sweet drink that will keep you from getting there. Eating balanced meals and getting plenty of physical activity are habits that can add years to your life.

Keep that in mind the next time you see an inflammatory headline providing a quick fix for all of your dietary woes.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Avoiding sugar is not the key to weight control

Avoiding Excess Calories

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

I heard a funny joke the other day about a woman who couldn’t double the recipe for her favorite chocolate chip cookies because her oven didn’t go up to 700 degrees. Anyone who likes to cook knows you don’t have to double the oven temperature to make more cookies, just the ingredients, but it got me thinking about some of the other “kitchen math” that keeps people from eating well.

Counting calories is by far the toughest nutrition problem most people have to solve each day. Knowing how many calories we consume is one half of the energy balance equation (more math!) Knowing how much energy we expend in physical activity is the other half. The calories from all foods and beverages contribute equally to the intake side of the equation. When we consume more calories than we expend we can gain weight. Increasing our level of activity is one way to off-set those extra calories. Consuming fewer calories is another. Keeping both sides in balance is the goal for weight maintenance. If you’re tuned in to popular media you might think sugar-sweetened drinks are responsible for obesity, but that simply isn’t true.

All calories count – which is why I shake my head in disbelief at those who single out just one caloric source as the cause for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Proponents of taxes on soda, warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages, and more red tape for grocery stores have got it wrong. As a registered dietitian, I’m convinced that consuming excess calories is the problem and unfortunately, there is no tax that will fix that.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

Blends made with sucralose p and sugar make baking easy

Sugar Substitutes for Baking: SPLENDA® Sugar Blends

This post was written as a guest blog for for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Even though I am a big proponent of low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, to lower the calories from sugar in my diet, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-sugar. Far from it! I am reminded of this whenever I’m preparing those less-added-sugar desserts that just wouldn’t turn out right if they didn’t have some sugar in them.

Thankfully, there is a way to get the unique cooking properties of sugar with fewer calories and still get the results you’d expect from full sugar.

Less Added Sugar vs No Sugar

SPLENDA® Sugar Blend and Brown Sugar Blend can help in preparing lower added sugar versions of your favorite recipes. Each is a mix of sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in all SPLENDA® Sweeteners) and pure sugar – either white or brown sugar. Baked goods made with them achieve the volume, moistness and browning you want, but with less sugar.

Since SPLENDA® Sugar Blends get half their sweetness from sucralose, you don’t have to use as much to get the sweet taste you want. That’s how they help you cut sugar calories. For most recipes, you simply replace the full amount of sugar called for with half as much SPLENDA® Sugar Blend orSPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend. Every cup of sugar replaced with half a cup of SPLENDA® Sugar Blend saves you 387 calories and 100 grams of carbohydrate!

This product is different from SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated, which offers even more calorie savings. SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener works best in recipes where sugar is used for sweetness rather than functionality, and can be used in many baked goods with no, or only minor, modifications. A big advantage to using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated is that you can make one-to-one measurements of it to replace the sugar in a recipe. A cup of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated has the same sweetening power as a cup of sugar, but with 678 fewer calories.

You can find recipes like these Choco-Chip Cookies that combine SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated with brown sugar.

When Every Calorie Counts

It’s great to know we can cook and bake with sugar substitutes and still enjoy the foods we love, but with fewer calories from sugar. It’s also important to know that the calories we save using sugar substitutes like SPLENDA® Sweeteners have nothing to do with all of the other ingredients in our recipes. That means the calories in the flour, butter, eggs and chocolate chips in my favorite cookie recipe don’t disappear when I use SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend in place of brown sugar – but I do appreciate the reduction. You can read more about that in my earlier blog, Where is the Hidden Sugar in Your Meals? How to Identify Hidden Calorie Culprits.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

For more information about cooking and baking with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, visit the Cooking & Baking section of this blog.

 

Balancing food choices is the key to diabetic meal plans

Delicious Ideas for Your Diabetes Meal Plan

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

People who have diabetes do not have different nutritional needs than those who do not have the disease. There also is no one diabetes diet or diabetic diet meal plan they must follow. Instead, what individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes do have is a greater motivation to eat well to manage their illness. And when they do that they are also lowering their risk factors for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for all Americans.

A valuable tool that can help you get on the right track is ChooseMyPlate. It provides all of the practical information you need to build a healthier diet based on the Dietary Guidelines, from shopping lists and safe food storage tips to healthier holiday choices and eating for vegetarians.

Looking for Meal-Time Inspiration

Numerous websites, books and other sources share information about diabetic diet meal plans, but that doesn’t mean you have to find one and stick with it. Living with diabetes means knowing how to adapt any menu or recipe to meet your personal needs. Working with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator is the first step to understanding how to do that.

Once you know how to manage diabetes you’ll be able to find inspiration everywhere, from award-winning cookbooks to your favorite cooking show on TV. Sometimes all you need to do is make a simple substitution in a recipe so it will “add up right” for you, like using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, instead of sugar.

The best news of all is that your good example can be followed by the rest of your family to improve their diets, too. As I’ve often said, one of the best ways to prevent diabetes is to eat as if you already had it.

Living with diabetes is not about whether or not you can have sugar or how many carbs are in a bagel. It’s about a lifestyle that includes making the right food and beverage choices, not smoking, getting regular exercise, adequate sleep and more.

So if you’re still wondering, “Is There a Diabetic Diet?” check out this blog post about diabetic diet by fellow blogger and dietitian Hope Warshaw. You’ll find advice that’s good for us all.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Claims on food labels do always mean what you think

Sugar Free Food Labels – What Do They Mean?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Reading food labels provides us with valuable information that can make it easier to the find products that best fit our nutritional needs. They can also be confusing.

For example, did you know the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has definitions for “low sodium,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” “low cholesterol,” “sugar-free” and “lower sugar” – claims which appear on food labels? And did you know the claims “sugar free” and “no added sugar” don’t mean the same thing?

If you’re trying to control the amount of sugar in your diet, understanding what the different claims for sugar on food labels mean can help make your shopping trips less confusing – and that’s sweet!

How to Read Food Labels: First Things First

When reading food labels, the first thing you need to know is how the FDA defines the word “sugars.” When found on a food label it refers to all “one-and two-unit” sugars used in food. This includes white and brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey and many other ingredients that have one or two sugar units in their structure. The sugars found in fruit, fruit juice and milk products also fall under this definition of sugar, however, low calorie sweeteners such as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, and polyols (sugar alcohols), do not.

Then there’s the word “free.” Even when products make the claim “sugar free,” “zero sugar,” “no sugar,” “sugarless” and “without sugar” they can have a small amount of sugar. However, this amount (less than 0.5 grams per serving), is so small that it represents an amount of calories and carbohydrates that would be expected to have no meaningful effect in usual meal planning.

This brings us to the claims “no added sugar,” “without added sugar” and “no sugar added.” They are allowed on foods that replace those which normally contain added sugars and have not had sugar or any other ingredient containing sugar added during processing. These foods differ from those with “sugar free” claims because they may contain naturally occurring sources of sugar, like a “no added sugar” ice cream containing lactose from the milk. They also can be sweetened with low calorie sweeteners.

How to Read Food Labels: What Sugar Free Foods Are Not

Now that you know what “sugar” and “free” mean in food labeling you need to know what those terms don’t mean. The most important distinction is “sugar free” does not mean “carbohydrate free.” While it’s true all sugars are carbohydrates, all carbohydrates are not sugars. Comparing the carbohydrate content on the Nutrition Facts panel of similar products where one makes a “sugar free” claim and the other does not will let you see if there really is much difference.

“Sugar free” and “no added sugar” claims also do not always mean “calorie free.” In fact, products carrying those claims must state “not a low calorie food” or “not for weight control” unless they meet the criteria for a low or reduced calorie food.

How to Read Food Labels: Sweetening Your Lower Sugar Diet

Once you’ve figured out what the best products are for you, you can add a little sweetness using one of the many SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products available, such as packets for your coffee and iced tea and the granulated form ideal for cooking and baking. If you want to add a little sugar, the white and brown SPLENDA® Sugar Blends contain a mix of sugar and sucralose for recipes where a little of both is best. You can find more ways to use all of these SPLENDA® Products in my earlier blog, Cutting Calories Every Day with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.

Life can be sweet if you know how to read the labels!
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Preventing heart disease tastes great!

Every Day Heart Health in February and Beyond

This is a sponsored post developed for The Coca-Cola Company, but all content is my own.

It’s February again, and that means it’s American Heart Month. With all of the health information out there, it can be hard to figure out how to work heart healthy choices into your daily routine. By keeping a few simple tips in mind for foods, beverages and overall health, you can make small changes this month that will benefit your heart all year round.

A balanced healthy eating plan that is low in saturated fat and sodium and full of fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, fish, high-fiber whole grain breads and cereals will help improve heart health. Select from this wide variety of meal options and make heart-healthy choices all day long.

Heart-Healthy Ways to Start Your Day

Simple swaps like full fat dairy for lower fat milk, yogurt and cheese will help start your day on a heart-healthy note. A few more examples to kick your day off right include:

  • Smoothie made with frozen fruit, fat-free milk and flax seed or wheat germ.
  • Ready-to-eat high-fiber whole grain cereal or cooked oats prepared with fat-free milk, raisins or other dried fruit.
  • Parfait layered with cut-up fruit, low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and low-fat crunchy granola.
  • Corn meal pancakes or whole grain waffles topped with fruit and a dollop of fat-free ricotta cheese.
  • Whole wheat wrap spread with natural peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese with sliced pears or chopped peaches.
  • Corn tortilla filled with black beans, salsa and shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Lunch Time Meal Solutions

Base your mid-day meal with vegetables, then add low-fat dairy and whole grains for a balanced plate.

  • Roasted vegetable salad with turkey, fresh spinach and light vinaigrette, plus a whole wheat roll with mashed avocado.
  • Easy vegetable soup made with low-sodium tomato juice, frozen mixed vegetables and canned beans, plus whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese and spicy mustard.
  • Lean beef slider with caramelized onion on potato roll, plus Napa cabbage slaw tossed in reduced-fat mayonnaise and a baked apple topped with low-fat Greek yogurt and toasted walnuts.

Eating Right into the Night

Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish and certain cuts of beef and flavor them with fresh or dried herbs and spices for a satisfying meal lower in fat and sodium, and healthier for your heart.

  • Stir-fried sirloin steak strips and portabella mushrooms over quick-cooking brown rice, plus garlicky green beans and cucumber salad with dill for sides.
  • Black bean veggie burger on multigrain bread with sliced red onion, plus roasted half acorn squash filled with chopped apple, honey and cinnamon and broccoli and bulghur pilaf sides.
  • Sautéed shrimp and cherry tomatoes over orzo with crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese and grilled zucchini basted in olive oil, plus kiwi and strawberry slices over arugula with balsamic vinaigrette.

Sensible Snacks for Any Time of Day

Reducing calories and smart snacking can go hand in hand, just watch your portion sizes.

  • Air-popped popcorn, roasted and seasoned chickpeas, melon cubes, unsalted nuts, citrus sections, dried dates or figs, steamed edamame, bowl of berries, banana chunks dipped in light yogurt, nut butter on whole grain crackers or frozen seedless grapes.
  • Select portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal that won’t break the calorie bank, helping you manage your weight for better heart health.

Know Your Numbers

Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the risk for heart disease, and this requires knowing how many calories you eat each day. But aside from weight and calories, it’s important to know all the factors that contribute to heart health. Be sure to talk to your doctor about lipid levels (cholesterol and triglyceride), blood pressure, fasting glucose (blood sugar), Body Mass Index and weight circumference numbers, and discuss any changes to your routine that can improve your heart health this February and beyond.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist with a focus on the societal forces continually shaping eating behavior and food trends. Her 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, authoring two popular diet books (The Wedding Dress Diet and Fighting the Freshman Fifteen) and numerous articles on diet and health and her high-traffic blog, TheEverydayRD. Today she is multimedia spokesperson and consultant to global food and beverage companies, including The Coca-Cola Company.

Research shows people eat less of a snack they crave when they delay eating it.

Research Offers Simple Way to Snack Less on Foods You Crave

JUST IN TIME FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, STUDY OFFERS STRATEGY TO HELP SNACK LESS AND CONTROL CRAVINGS

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you crave certain foods and give in too easily to the urge to snack, do not despair. A new study offers valuable advice just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest snack day of the year!

Research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology showed that when subjects postponed eating a snack they craved to an unspecified time in the future, they ate less. Not only did they eat less of that food when they finally got around to having it, they ate less of it over the next week, which can be helpful if you have a lot of Super Bowl leftovers in the house.

A key finding from this study was that those subjects who put off eating the snack they desired to an unstated time in the future did much better than those who denied themselves eating any at all and those who gave themselves permission to eat all they wanted.

Why Postponing Works?

By postponing the opportunity to eat something you crave, you give yourself time for the desire to diminish, and that’s a good thing. Every minute you’re not eating those nachos, fried mozzarella sticks, or chocolate covered pretzels adds up to calories, fat, salt and sugar you did not consume.

This strategy also removes two other saboteurs to self-control: guilt and retaliation. Guilt comes into play when you immediately start eating all you want of the snacks calling out to you. Once you realize what you’ve done, guilt can trigger further gluttony. On the other hand, if you tell yourself you can’t have the snacks at all, you’re likely to feel deprived and will eventually retaliate and eat more than your share.

Delay Trumps Denial

The subjects were divided into three different groups. One group was allowed to eat the snack freely, another was told not to eat the snack, and the third was told they could eat it later. The researchers observed their behavior when offered two different snacks: candies and chips.

The results were the same whether the subjects were assigned to a group or got to select the group themselves. Those that were told to delay their snack ate the least. Those who were told not to eat the snack at all ate the most.

So as you get you game plan ready for the Super Bowl, here’s a cheer that is sure to make you a winner when the snacks are served:

“I think I’ll pass!”

There is No Need to Diet! Try This Alternative Instead

If Diet Means Don’t Eat to You, Don’t Diet!

REPLACE NEGATIVE DIET MENTALITY WITH POSITIVE APPROACH TO EATING

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

Diets just won’t go away. A perennial new year’s resolution, a guaranteed way to make money and a perpetual source of hope – dieting will remain a constant in our continually changing world as long as diet means don’t eat.

The only alternative is to eat! That’s right, if you don’t like the way it feels to be on a diet and want a way to abandon all diet plans and the diet foods that go with them forever, you must decide to eat instead.

Sound too good to be true? Let me explain.

Eating is about choosing foods that nourish your body. If done properly you can prevent most chronic diseases. And if you can prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many forms of cancer you won’t need special diets to treat them later in life.

Conversely, if you don’t eat to nourish yourself throughout your life you will need to go on a diet at some point to fix the damage. That’s when diets are prescribed to reduce fat, sodium and sugar and control calories, serving sizes and snacks.

The end result may be the same at this point – whether eating or dieting – but the attitude is not. Eating gives you the freedom to choose what you eat. Dieting gives you the rules about what you cannot eat. Even if you follow the same rules, by choosing them you defeat the need for a diet.

Why not begin eating today to nourish yourself and abandon diets forever? No matter what your weight or medical condition, it is simply a change of attitude. But that change in attitude may help you succeed where all diets have failed.

Changing traditions can prevent weight gain from holiday foods and special party dishes

Holiday Treats, Party Dishes and Weight Gain

CHANGING TRADITIONS CAN PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN FROM HOLIDAY FOODS AND SPECIAL PARTY DISHES

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

If you’re worried about gaining weight during Q4 (fourth quarter) with all of the holiday treats around, it may be time to rethink your annual food budget. Not the amount of money you spend on food, but how you eat throughout the year that makes holiday foods so costly in terms of calories.

It works something like this.

You deprive yourself of foods you love all year, and then when party dishes show up at traditional year-end gatherings, you cash in. The faulty logic of this approach is believing you can have all you want of the Hanukkah honey puffs or Christmas rum balls because you only eat them once a year. If only the math worked in your favor.

The sad truth is you can’t average out the calories you ate today over the other 364 days of the year.

What Makes Some Foods So Special?

The menus for most holiday feasts originated at a time when food was scarce. Being able to celebrate special occasions with foods you rarely got to eat, or foods that had historical or religious significance, helped make the events and the foods seem more important. Over time, the two got so cemented together in our psyches that we reserved eating those foods just for those occasions, even if we could enjoy them on any other day of the year.

The problem is we now have an abundance of food all year round and endless opportunities to eat more than we need. There is no longer a shortage of eggs, oil, or sugar, yet the symbolism of these ingredients and the holiday foods they’re used in lingers on.

One way to avoid over-indulging in them may be to start preparing your favorite party dishes at other times of year. By giving yourself permission to dip into those treasured recipes whenever you like you can diminish some of the pull they may have over your self-control when you confront them during the holidays.

What Else Can We Celebrate?

Gathering extended family around the same table has become a rarity in our 21st Century lives, yet is as important to our survival as the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock was nearly 400 years ago. Maybe now, instead of focusing all of our attention on the food we serve, we can use these special occasions to reconnect with one another.

One way to do that would be to start a “tech-free tradition” that requires everyone to leave behind their smart phones and tablets. Imagine all the verbal messages and hugs that might be exchanged when talking face-to-face with hands free!

What favorite holiday food would you like to eat all year?

Start the holiday party season with a plan to control excess calories

Simple Solutions to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

This post was originally written as a guest blog for TheSkinnyOnLowCal.org. You can read the original post here.

I know it can seem impossible to control what you eat during the holidays due to all of the parties and special occasions that occur, but weight gain is not inevitable! Instead of worrying about weight loss during such an overwhelming time, focus on maintaining your current weight and adding in exercise when possible- a game of touch football while Christmas dinner is in the oven or a walk with family before dessert. Below I’ve put together five simple substitutions for a happy and healthy holiday season.

BE SELECTIVE

Whether you have 3 social engagements in the same day or 3 in the same week, you can’t walk into each one and eat and drink as if it’s the only party of the year. Instead, you need to be selective about where your calories are going to come from so you can stay within your personal calorie “budget.” A good place to start is with the beverages. A no calorie diet soda or glass of seltzer with a twist of lime can save 150 to 300 calories compared to a glass of wine or fancy mixed drink. And choosing a non-alcoholic drink will also help you make the rest of your food decisions with a clear head.

MAKE TRADE-OFFS

When it comes to weight control, every calorie counts! That means you need ways to offset the added calories you’re likely to eat when the tins of homemade cookies and boxes of assorted chocolates are passed around. It’s possible by making lower calorie substitutions throughout the day. For example, order a Skinny Latte made with a low-calorie sweetener, like aspartame, and nonfat milk instead of your usual mocha coffee drink. Or you can swap out your mid-morning muffin for a reduced-calorie, high fiber granola bar. How about passing on the croutons at the salad bar and taking an extra scoop of crunchy cauliflower for another calorie-saving trade-off? By saving calories throughout the day, you can enjoy a few more later on.

BE PREPARED

We can’t add more hours to the day to get all those extra errands done we have this time of year, but keeping plenty of better-for-you foods on hand can help fuel us while doing them. The best choices provide protein and fiber so we’ll feel satisfied longer. Try a container of light yogurt with chopped walnuts sprinkled on top, a cheese round or wedge with a few whole wheat crackers, or a small container of hummus with some baked soy chips for great grab-and-go snacks that can curb your hunger until your next meal.

PLAN TO EAT

Even if it feels like your “to-do” list gets longer every day, skipping meals is not a good way to catch up. Eating on a regular schedule keeps your energy levels on track so you can get to the bottom of that list! It will also help prevent the impulsive eating that can occur when you get too hungry and face a food court full of temptation. You can make your meals as simple as a healthy frozen dinner heated up in the microwave or a soup and sandwich combo from the nearest deli. The key is to take the time to stop and eat a planned meal instead of over eating an unplanned one.

DON’T LET STRESS GET THE BEST OF YOU

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, so make sure you keep your sights focused on the fun, not just the work. Delegate, improvise and take shortcuts to reduce some of the demands on your time and the stress eating that can go with it. Wouldn’t a massage, a facial or long soak in the tub make you feel more relaxed? Making time to pamper yourself is often all it takes to put things back into perspective.

WISHING YOU ALL A HAPPY, HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON!