Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Munching- the good and bad choices

With the holidays in full swing, most of us will be enjoying plenty of food and treats.  As we are out and about and hosting parties and meals, we can choose foods and drinks that are gut busters or have fun but make some healthier choices.  Just making some modifications in what we order can influence how many calories we are packing in.

Thirsty? – stopping at Starbucks for some caffeine?  Coffee actually has a number of nutritional benefits as does tea.  It is what is added to the coffee that can do one in.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently evaluated the Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha made with 2% milk and whipped cream on top.  They compared it to a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and noted the Venti was actually worse nutritionally than the quarter pounder.  Why?  Perhaps because of the 580 calories and 13 teaspoons of added sugar.   If you want the Venti, then choose to modify it by asking for nonfat milk and skip the whipped cream. 

Chipotle – this eating establishment actually has many healthy options to choose from.  But it also has some that are not the best choices.  Choose the Chipotle Chicken Burrito and you are choosing 970 calories and 18 grams of saturated fat.  If you really want this burrito you can trim some of the fat by skipping the sour cream and cheese but it will still add 750 calories to your meal.  Although the chips are tasty, a 4 ounce serving packs 570 calories, with almost half of these fat calories.  Chipotle has many healthier side options such as brown rice, black beans, pinto beans, fajita veggies, and salsa which is loaded with nutrition and few calories.  Chipotle has a great nutrition calculator on their web site - worth checking out before one orders.

Hosting a party?  Certainly there will be fun foods and not so healthy foods at a party.  But one can also serve some healthier options like veggie trays, crisp bread crackers like Wasa, RyKrisp and Ryvita which are whole grain.   There are many reduced fat cheeses.  I found a cheddar wine cheese spread that was reduced fat but also delicious.  This cheese spread is great on some Triscuits or other whole grain crackers.   Hummus is popular now and also a great spread for crackers or a dip for carrots and other veggies.    Serve a bowl of nuts.  A handful of nuts a day is a healthy choice.  Fresh fruit such as grapes are also healthy alternatives.  So have the fun food but also have some healthier options available. 
Going to a Holiday Party?  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some Helpful Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties
If you are a guest at a dinner party or other gathering, consider these tips to keep your night healthy, happy and safe:
  • If you plan on treating yourself later, start your day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruit, low-fat or fat-free dairy and protein, such as eggs, ham or peanut butter.
  • Don't starve yourself beforehand. Rather, eat a small, lower-calorie meal or snack including fruit or a bagel so you aren't tempted to overdo your calorie intake for the day.
  • Choose carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample and those you will skip.
  • Don't rush to eat. Socialize and settle into the festivities before you eat. 
  • Move your socializing away from the buffet or appetizer trays. This will minimize the unconscious nibbling.

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