The holidays are a time to indulge in shortbread cookies, bite-sized hors d’ouevres, turkey stuffing and perhaps an eggnog or two. But they needn’t steer your healthy eating habits completely off course. With a little know-how and a game plan, it is possible to survive the festive season with nutrition in mind – and without expanding your waistline.
To sharpen your healthy eating skills this holiday season – and to pick foods with the best overall nutrition value – take a few minutes to complete my nutrition-IQ quiz. Be honest, though: Don’t look ahead at the answers.
1) True or False? The average person gains five pounds during the holiday season?
2) Nuts are a healthy cocktail snack, but which type delivers disease-fighting omega-3 fatty acids?
3) Which glass of holiday cheer delivers the fewest calories?
a) Light beer
b) Pomegranate martini
c) Mulled wine
4) At what temperature is your stuffed holiday turkey considered safe to eat?
a) 63°C (145°F)
b) 71°C (160°F)
c) 80°C (175°F)
d) 82°C (180°F)
5) Condiments add flavour to holiday meals. Which one is the best source of antioxidants?
a) Grainy mustard
b) Cranberry sauce
6) Your holiday meal leftovers can be safely refrigerated for:
a) 1 week
b) 3 days
c) 5 days
d) 2 weeks
7) If you’re going to indulge your sweet tooth, which holiday treat is the lowest in calories?
a) Pecan pie, 1 slice (1/8 of a pie)
b) Traditional fruit cake, 1 slice (1/12 of a 7” cake)
c) Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, 1 slice (1/8 of a pie)
d) Mincemeat pie, 1 slice (1/8 of a pie)
8) True or False? If you want to get fitter and healthier in 2017, it’s best to make a New Year’s resolution.
1) False. In truth, holiday weight gain is minimal. Research has revealed that healthy-weight individuals gain only one pound over the holidays.People who are overweight, on the other hand, can gain five pounds or more. Despite an average weight gain of one pound, the problem is that most people don’t take it off in the New Year. That extra pound accumulates year after year.
Bottom line: Your eating habits January through November matter the most when it comes to managing weight.
2) b. While all types of nuts are nutritious, only walnuts contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat linked to protection from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (flax and chia seeds are also good sources). One ounce of walnuts (14 halves) serve up 2.5 grams of ALA; women require 1.1. g each day; men need 1.6.
3) d. If you’re counting calories, choose bubbly. A four-ounce serving will cost you only 78 calories. The highest calorie choice is the pomegranate martini (vodka, cranberry juice, orange liqueur) serving up 185 calories. Mulled wine (5 ounces) made with sugar and spices has 150 to 180 calories and light beer (12 ounces) serves up 95.
4) d. 82°C (180°F). Use a digital meat thermometer and cook your turkey until the temperature at the thickest part of the breast or thigh is at least 82°C (180°F). To kill harmful bacteria, turkey should be roasted at or above 177°C (350°F). It’s not recommended that poultry be partially cooked one day and finished the next.
5) b. Cranberry sauce rules thanks to it’s impressive content of anthocyanins, potent antioxidants thought to guard against urinary tract infections, gum disease, ulcers and, possibly, heart disease. Applesauce comes in second due to quercetin, an antioxidant with potential anti-cancer properties. (Raw apples have more quercetin.)
6) b. To ensure safeness and best quality, refrigerated leftovers such as turkey, potatoes, vegetables and stuffing should be consumed within three to four days. (Store gravy for one to two days.) Reheat leftover turkey to a temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) and gravy and soup to a rolling boil.
7) c. Pumpkin pie, even topped with whipped cream, comes out the winner at 348 calories (316 calories without whip). It also serves up calcium, potassium and nearly a full day’s worth of vitamin A. Fruit cake is a close runner-up at 366 calories; it’s also a good source of iron and potassium thanks to dried fruit. A slice of mincemeat and pecan pie clocks in at 477 and 503 calories, respectively. Ouch.
8) True. Research suggests that people who make resolutions to get fitter are 10 times more likely to make it happen, at least in the short term, than those who simply wish to change their habits. Now is the time to make specific, realistic and time-framed goals to improve your diet and exercise habits in 2017.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.