How to avoid weight gain during the holiday season

My waistline was lucky on Thanksgiving.

We did not celebrate with food.

I do not think I will be as lucky on Christmas because, knowing my family, I might have a few Christmas celebrations to attend and a few merry meals to munch.

Oh. I’m getting poet-y.

I do not want to gain more weight during the holiday season. In fact, I am currently trying to lose the weight I gained when I started my desk job. I know I do not need to overeat for my holiday merriment so I’m going to practice a few techniques I found around the web to avoid the holiday weight gain that is so inevitable for us Americans.

Especially for the ones who love food. Like me. I feel your pain.

The first trick I found was “eat like a king, eat like a prince, eat like a peasant.” I should consume the most amount of my calories in the morning for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, I should eat like a prince (less than a king) and like a peasant (the least amount of calories), respectively.

No 100-calorie yogurt cups with granola for breakfast. I need to prepare a healthy, more than 300-calorie breakfast for myself every morning: eggs, fruit, toast and coffee.

And my peasant dinner will most likely be the Christmas dinner that will tempt me to overeat, but NOT if I’m still full of breakfast.

The second trick I found was to bring my own food. For every holiday celebration I attend, I will bring my own healthy dish! I will make enough of said healthy dish to eat it the most but also have some left for others to enjoy.

What about spaghetti squash salad with feta? I’ll go easy on the butter and salt, and I’ll eat ALL OF IT. Looks so delicious.

 

The third trick is something I have tried in the past: DO NOT HAVE SECONDS. And by “tried in the past,” I mean “failed to succeed in the past.”

I have never been able to resist the tempting pull of seconds. My father-in-law is a ridiculously good cook and so are my family members: my mother, my Papa and my grandma. AND I live with my husband who is a much better cook than I am so I’m always eating everything (double that) he puts in front of me.

Guh.

My goals for the holiday season:

1) Eat a crazy healthy and equally crazy big breakfast every morning.

2) Bring a healthy dish that’s low in the usual holiday guilt (butter and salt).

3) Do not have seconds at any holiday meal I attend this season. Do not.

The only goal that sounds tough is #3!

How do you avoid holiday weight gain? What changes do you make in your diet or fitness regimen to make up for the calories you eat for holiday meals?

 

Say “I don’t eat that,” instead of “I can’t eat that”

I read I Don’t Eat That: Four Words That May Help You Lose Weight on Diets In Review in July, and, since then, I have kept a list of things I don’t eat.

According to the study featured in the article, saying “I don’t eat that,” rather than “I can’t eat that” tricks a person’s mind into thinking they are not giving up something they want. Instead, that person is making a conscious decision to avoid the food in front of them or the food offered to them.

Since I started saying “I don’t eat that,” I’m having a less difficult time avoiding foods I don’t want to eat, such as French fries. For example, when I my husband and I order sandwiches to go from a restaurant or bar, I usually sub in a side of soup, instead of chips or fries.

Of course, that still hasn’t stopped me from eating fried pickles…

My list is still pretty short. Apparently, I do not eat too many foods that should be on my “I don’t eat that” list.

Here’s my list:

  • Ice cream
  • French fries
  • Hot links
  • Pizza from Papa John’s
  • Vending machine cookies

When I put each food on the list, I did so after I had eaten it. Ice cream, and most dairy, makes me feel terrible. The French fries I ate before putting them on the list were greasy and made me feel terrible. The hot links, the pizza from Papa John’s and vending machine cookies all made me feel terrible.

I put foods on my list that made me feel terrible… if you didn’t catch on.

So far, only those five foods have made me feel terrible, but I’m sure that list will grow and grow and grow…

Although, in the future, I hope to put food on my list before I eat it because I know I don’t eat it ;)

Waste less food

Last week, I threw away an entire bunch of celery, an onion and a bunch of fresh basil.

Oh! And a tomato

I hate wasting food.

I feel terrible every time I throw out once fresh fruits and vegetables. I feel terrible when I throw away half a loaf of bread because every slice is moldy. I feel terrible when potatoes spud so badly they’re inedible.

I need to learn how to stop wasting food.

To stop wasting food, I need to store my fresh fruits and vegetables properly, and, really, this means I need to stop being so lazy when it comes to food storage.

I put my perishables, like celery and salad greens, in the crisper and, sometimes, forget that I’ve purchased them or don’t plan my weekly meals to use the perishables quickly. When I reach in the drawer for a head of Romaine, I find wilted leaves.

The sooner fresh fruits and vegetables are consumed after harvest, the more nutrients in those fruits and vegetables.

I also need to make better use of my leftovers. Instead of eating the same meal twice, which is what my husband and I usually do, I can add to leftovers to give them new life!

Making a few simple changes, like storing my milk in the back of the fridge and purchasing whole foods, will help my food last longer.

Did you know you should store oils and whole wheat flours in the fridge? I had no clue.

On the menu this week…

  • Sweet potatoes, stored in the pantry
  • Fresh greens and cucumbers, stored in the crisper (but I’m not going to forget!)
  • Pork chops and a whole chicken

Plus a few dishes using canned tomatoes… Fresh tomatoes should be used immediately, in my opinion experience.

Meat-free eating

I have carnivorous tendencies.

Fish, I love.

Burgers? zomg. yum.

And duck… Don’t even get me started.

When husband makes steak, I melt with happiness and joy. He makes a really great bleu cheese sauce with cognac and peppercorns.

It. Is. Amazing.

But I want to eat less meat.

Not because I think eating meat is bad, but if I eat less meat, I will certainly eat MORE vegetables and fruits and yogurt. (I don’t need to eat more yogurt. I want to eat more yogurt. Current Favorite: Voskos Greek Yogurt with Wild Blueberries!)

I have also had some really fantastic vegetarian meals.

For example, when I had more than one bad experience with meat-full meals at one of my favorite old restaurants, I switched to the vegetarian menu.

The black bean tacos tasted better than the beef tacos. The sweet potato burger tasted better than the entire menu of patties. The vegetable sides tasted better than the fries and fried foods.

I was in veggie heaven! (And I rarely consider any where with eggplant heaven.)

Several blogs I read focus on vegetarian or vegan menus, even if the bloggers occasionally eat meat. Those bloggers look great and proclaim how great they feel! I want that!

Luckily, I already have most vegetarian staples in my pantry.

Healthy Oils: Canola for baking and extra-virgin olive oil for cooking (and salad and bread and hummus).

Nuts and Seeds: I know peanuts are not nuts. As soon as we are through our jar of peanut butter, I want to switch to sunflower butter. However, husband and I eat a bunch of nuts and seeds. (Organic cereal = SO MANY SEEDS.)

Eggs and Dairy: Husband and I eat eggs and love them equally. I am lactose intolerant and tend to avoid dairy (except fat free Greek yogurt), but Husband drinks full fat, full flavor chocolate milk after his jiu-jitsu workouts for recovery. It doesn’t do him a bit of harm ;)

Legumes: I can still eat peanuts! (Just want to avoid the butter.) Beans are probably my favorite legume. Black beans, pinto beans, dark red kidney beans… mix with corn and tomatoes with a little lime and cilantro, and you’ve just made my favorite summer snack!

Whole Grains: Except for whole grain bread and cereal as well as oats, my pantry is filled with regular noodles and regular rice. I need to work on that…

Fruits and Vegetables: Of course! I eat a banana almost every morning and an apple almost every day. I usually put vegetables in dinner or make a veggie with dinner as a side. (I have the best day, though, if I get my mid-morning apple snack.)

Those staples provide the nutrients needed when eating a meat-free diet, such as calcium, iron and iodine.

I have a ton of vegetarian recipes to try, but I’m pretty sure Moo Shu Vegetables is on the top of the list. I love the chicken version ;)

I’m not actually sure if an eggplant is a vegetable. I’ve heard it be called a berry and a type of squash. The CDC called it a vegetable. Who knows?!

Fifteen worst foods at the supermarket

Rodale News, where health meets life, reported the 15 most pointless foods in the supermarket.

I am the grocery shopper at our household. Husband does not follow the list when grocery shopping and does not want to use coupons as devotedly as I do, which means I do all the grocery shopping unless I send him to the store for Taco Seasoning or something I forgot.

It’s a good system. I CONTROL ALL THE FOOD.

Since I make weekly grocery trips, I have seen some of the interesting food items lining the store shelves.

The pointless foods on the list were both obvious and shocking.

Mio Water Enhancer

Making your water flavorful and colorful (and, now, energy-full) ruins the pure goodness of water. Instead of adding artificial sweeteners and dyes, put a load of frozen berries or slices of citrus fruits in your water if you want to spice it up.

Smuckers Uncrustables

I will not speak to this. Do not eat this. Get your whole wheat bread, peanut butter and sweet sugary jam. Make a sandwich. Cut the crusts off.

Bagel-fuls

Bagel-fuls take bagel-like bread and stuff it with artificial fruit and Philadelphia cream cheese, which is the only ingredients I would eat on purpose.

Splenda Essentials with Antioxidants

I think the article is saying, “Eat the bloody antioxidants in the food they actually come in.” You will have berries or you will have nothing.

Yoplait Low-Fat Yogurt

Poor, poor Husband. I prefer non-fat organic Greek yogurt, but Husband is a Yoplait yogurt eating fiend.

Lucky Charms

How is this even on the list? Isn’t it a no-brainer?

Special K Cereal Bars

Insert any cereal bar here. Gross me out. Cereal bars don’t even taste good.

VitaMuffins Muffin Tops

I was unaware that this food item existed. It is just the top of a muffin. I like all of a muffin. Getting ripped off, if you ask me.

WhoNu? Nutrition Rich Cookies

Well, I have to say, I almost bought these on a craving-cookies day, and I had a coupon. I couldn’t find them in the store that day, but when I did find them, I found them in the natural food section. WhoNu? cookies have refined flour…

Chocolate Milk with Omega-3’s

It’s enriched sugary milk. Just eat some fish.

Bottled Water

‘Nuf said.

Fruitless Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is full of sugar, artificial sugar and fake colors and flavors. You could just eat fruit. An apple a day…

Neuro Sun

What even is this stuff? Vitamin D…

Single Serve Coffee Pods

The idea of a single serve coffee pod is pointless. I need multiple servings of coffee. Wasteful.

PediaSure Shakes

As a source of over nutrition, the shake is as bad as it is good. I will force feed my children fish and asparagus and Brussels sprouts… and buy them milkshakes, which are totes better that nutrition shakes.

A list of food items that might not even be considered real food. Discontinue the eating of these foods and replace them with real food. (Yoplait yogurt will likely be a staple in my household for the rest of my Husband’s life so I can’t really say much…)

Do you have pointless foods to add to the list?

Emergency blog post: Hunger and food security at Wichita State University

A free dinner followed by a discussion about hunger and food security will be offered from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, April 20, in Room 203 in the Rhatigan Student Center at Wichita State University.

My Seminar in Public Health course led the WSU Hunger Awareness initiative last semester. We were a team of eight students and our professor as well as numerous volunteers. Our goals were to raise awareness about food security and hunger in the world and in our community as well as to determine the nature and scope of food security and hunger on campus.

We worked with Numana, put on a food packaging event for Somali refugees in Kenya with the help of Numana, SWIPE Out Hunger and Volunteer Kansas and held the first Dinner & Conversation focus group discussion.

The Second Dinner & Conversation is intended to bring WSU community members together to share a meal and to discuss hunger and food security within the campus community. The hope is to add to the findings from last semester’s research.

I do not have access to every student’s individual research. My research focused on graduate students and graduate teaching assistants.

Please join the students for this important conversation about hunger and food security in our community and on our campus.

Food for the dinner is being donated by Sodexo.

WSU Hunger Awareness has a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Please show your support by leaving your comments on the blog and visiting the social networks.

Food storage tips and tricks

If you want to eat a healthy, nutritious menu, you have to purchase and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh meat.

Fresh groceries must be stored until preparation or you will have a refrigerator full of moldy fruit, wilty veggies and rancid meat… all of which are highly inedible, in case you were curious.

I feel horribly guilty when I’m wasteful with food, especially since I’ve been doing research as to how many people in the United States don’t have food to waste. I’m convinced the purchasable portions are too large for a normal married couple to consume in proper time.

My guilt (and my budget) will thank me: How to store fresh produce and meat.

The girls at Healthy Diaries keep greens, such as Romaine lettuce and kale, fresh by washing and drying them thoroughly, and then wrapping them in a paper towel and storing in a plastic bag.

The blog also features carrots, celery, tomatoes and herbs as well as what produce will do just fine outside the refrigerator.

As for storing and freezing meat, Runner’s World nutrition expert Leslie Bonci explained that nothing lasts forever.

Refrigerated meat should be consumed within four days of purchase, but if frozen properly meat can last much longer.

Just not forever.

You can freeze meat for a certain amount of months

The largest portion of my grocery budget wasted goes to fresh strawberries, chicken and spinach. All three are stored improperly in my refrigerator and freezer. The chicken is probably OK.

Better get to the kitchen and start storing food properly.