No need to skip dessert at hol­i­day gath­er­ings

North Penn Life - - Opinion -

The temp­ta­tion is plen­ti­ful when it comes to eat­ing dur­ing the hol­i­days, but one can ac­tu­ally in­dulge in all the good­ies with­out putting on the pounds if it’s done right.

It’s all about bal­ance, said EJ Park, a di­eti­cian at the In­sti­tute for Meta­bolic and Bari­atric Surgery at Abing­ton Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal.

“Gen­er­ally, most peo­ple will gain a few pounds over the hol­i­days, but you need to mon­i­tor how much you are con­sum­ing,” Park said. “I’m all for en­joy­ing what you eat. It’s not so much what, but how much you eat.”

The goal is to be proac­tive and have a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude, she said. Be­fore go­ing to a party or hol­i­day din­ner, de­cide “how you will spend your time” at the event.

“Do not skip meals be­fore the din­ner or party,” eat a nor­mal break­fast and lunch, Park said. “Of­ten when we feel de­prived we tend to binge or overeat, make poor choices and con­sume ex­tra calo­ries.

“Don’t go into a party with an empty stom­ach”; eat a healthy snack, such as fruit or nuts, an hour or two be­fore, she added.

“The quick­est way to gain weight is by drink­ing your calo­ries,” Park said, so the goal should be to avoid or limit as much caloric bev­er­ages as pos­si­ble.

One cup of eggnog can have be­tween 350 and 400 calo­ries, 32 ounces of coke has more than 300 calo­ries, a bot­tle of Bud Light has more than 100 calo­ries and a 4- to 6- ounce glass of wine has be­tween 80 and 120 calo­ries, she said.

Once at the event, “try to choose healthy sub­sti­tutes or al­ter­na­tives. Choos­ing a leaner cut of meat can help with fat and calo­rie in­take,” Park said, not­ing by com­par­i­son, a 3- to 4- ounce beef prime rib has more than 20 grams of fat, while 3 ounces of sir­loin tips has only 3 grams of fat.

In the same vein, one might want to choose more veg­eta­bles than pota­toes, she said.

“The fo­cus should be on por­tion con­trol,” Park said. “Eat in mod­er­a­tion … don’t eat more just be­cause you’re at a hol­i­day party.”

Like­wise, “you can still en­joy desserts, but don’t eat cook­ies and a huge piece of cake,” she said, “maybe one cookie and a mod­er­ate slice of cake or pie.”

And if the event is a potluck, one may want to mod­ify recipes with lower fat or sugar in­gre­di­ents in pre­par­ing a dish, Park said.

For ex­am­ple, in mak­ing a dessert with cream cheese, use re­duced fat or no fat cream cheese. Two ta­ble­spoons of cream cheese has 90 calo­ries and 20 grams of fat, while two ta­ble­spoons of fat free cream cheese has only 30 calo­ries and no grams of fat.

In ad­di­tion, egg whites can be sub­sti­tuted for whole eggs in recipes that re­quire a lot of eggs, ap­ple­sauce can be sub­sti­tuted for oil in some baked prod­ucts and there are but­ter al­ter­na­tives that are plant- based and have less sat­u­rated fat, she said.

To curb a ten­dency to overeat, “when you’re done, move away from the food,” she said. Some­times peo­ple will con­tinue to eat when they see oth­ers eat­ing or just be­cause it’s in front of them.

If she was the host­ess, Park said, she would serve “some kind of protein dish,” like beef or fish, a few choices of veg­eta­bles and a pasta or rice dish us­ing whole grain in­gre­di­ents.

Desserts “are al­ways a chal­lenge,” she said, adding, “I al­ways have fruit,” and she usu­ally asks some­one else to bring the dessert.

For those host­ing the party, a few safety tips are in or­der.

When shop­ping, keep raw meat, poul­try and seafood sep­a­rate from readyto- eat foods like fruit, veg­eta­bles and bread, ac­cord­ing to homefoodsafety. org.

Re­frig­er­ate per­ish­able foods, such as raw meat or poul­try, within two hours. Store food in a re­frig­er­a­tor at 40 de­grees or be­low or in the freezer at 0 de­grees Fahren­heit or be­low.

Per­ish­able foods left at room tem­per­a­ture more than two hours should be thrown away. Other leftovers should be re­frig­er­ated or frozen in air- tight con­tain­ers la­beled with an ex­pi­ra­tion date.

“I’m not for elim­i­nat­ing foods be­cause they are higher in calo­ries, I’m for bet­ter con­trol of how much, which is more real­is­tic and doable,” Park said.

And to “com­pen­sate for ex­tra calo­ries, in­crease your ex­er­cise.”

To Your Health Linda Finarelli

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