Healthy Holiday Tips

12/07/2010

With more parties, productions, baking, and shopping going on during the holiday season than any other, it’s hard to not get caught up in all the festivities. Before you know it you are feeling more stressed than relaxed and grouchy than cheerful, as the hustle and bustle begins to take its toll on your body. But before you go out and buy those last minute gifts, take a moment to think about how you can give yourself the gift of health during the holidays.

Eat Wisely
With the cold weather come layers of clothing which make it harder to catch those extra few pounds sneaking up on your waistline. But you don’t have to deprive yourself of the holiday dishes you’ve been looking forward to all year, just don’t overindulge in them. Think portion control and remember that it’s better to try a little of everything than eat too much of one thing. It’s also important to be aware of mindless snacking at parties, by choosing your foods wisely and limiting your grazing time. If you make selections from the veggie plate rather than the chip bowl at the appetizers table, it is not only better for your waistline, but your overall health. And while one or two Christmas cookies won’t kill you, too many treats can cause sugar overload not only affecting your energy levels but quickly packing on the pounds.

Keep Your (Workout) Routine
With more to do and less time to do it in, it’s easy to let trips to the gym slip to the end of your to do list. Still, you should make exercise a priority during the holiday season, and I’m not just talking about mall walking. Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on three days out of the week or more will keep your energy levels up, mood stable, stress reduced, and of course, weight controlled. This doesn’t mean picking an aerobics class over your best friend’s Christmas party, you should enjoy the festivities of the season, but just try to keep up your regular exercise routine in the process. Trust me, come New Year’s Day you’ll be glad you did.

Limit Alcohol
While spiked eggnog might be one of your favorite things about holiday gatherings, overindulging can not only get you in trouble at this year’s company party but leave you unable to go to work the next day. When celebrating at an event, limit your alcohol intake to only one or two drinks and choose beverages with low alcohol content. Remember that alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories, meaning that they contain no nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Excessive drinking can significantly increase your calorie intake and take a toll on your body leaving you feeling drained and dehydrated. It can also increase health risks associated with high blood pressure, liver damage, and digestive problems. 

Pace Yourself
Even though you may love being involved in holiday cheer, you don’t have to plan your kid’s school Christmas party, organize the gift exchange at work, and help direct your church’s live nativity. Pace yourself when it comes to responsibilities and realize that if you don’t do it someone else will. If you are too busy running around everywhere making sure that every event goes exactly as planned, you’ll be too stressed out and exhausted to actually enjoy them.

By-line:
Alvina Lopez regularly writes on the topic of accredited online schools <http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/>. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com. http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/


The Christmas Coronary – Holiday Heart Attack

12/27/2009

The Holidays are a joyous time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends. But they have also been found to increase the risk for heart problems. Heart related deaths and heart failure hospitalizations rise sharply around the winter holidays.

Several triggers for this increased risk have been reported in recent studies:

• Our normal routine is disrupted – we may be traveling, eating and drinking differently, under more stress and exercising less

• Cold weather can also be a trigger (especially when shoveling snow)

• Depression may be more prevalent – you may be missing a loved one more around the holiday season

For years I have been teaching people about the “5 E’s” these are five things that start with the letter E that can increase your risk for heart problems.

• EATING – heart attacks can be triggered by eating meals with a high fat content or eating heavy meals. Enjoy the holiday meals but remember moderation is key.

 • EXERTION – heart attacks can be triggered by too much exertion (again think about shoveling snow). Bundle up and take frequent rest breaks. Also if you are starting a new exercise routine – slowly increase your activity, don’t overdo it.

 • ELIMINATION – heart attacks can be triggered during straining to have a bowel movement. Remember to eat your fiber and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.

• EXTREME EMOTIONS – heart attacks can be triggered by extreme emotions such as depression and anger. The holidays can be a stressful time, make sure you are taking time for yourself and your mental well-being.

• EXTREME TEMPERATURE CHANGES – heart attacks can be triggered by temperature changes, such as going out of your warm house out into the cold weather. Remember to bundle up and cover your mouth and nose with a scarf, breathing in the cold air suddenly can put stress on your heart.

So Enjoy the Holiday Season but remember to take care of your health – your heart will thank you for it!  Thinking about Healthy New Year’s Resolutions check out our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart” available at www.heart-strong.com


Some Healthy Holiday Tips

12/15/2009

Well, the Holidays are almost upon us and if you are anything like me…you are thinking about some of those delicious holiday treats and holiday gatherings with family and friends.  Almost every event that you attend over the next several weeks will tempt your will power!!

With all of the holiday hustle and bustle, exercise is often one of the first things to be cut from your busy routine.  But remember even walking as little as 10 minutes a day can have a beneficial effect on your blood sugar, blood pressure, waist-line and cholesterol numbers. How about taking a little walk before company arrives or before you leave for that holiday gathering?  Even 10-15 minutes out enjoying the holiday decorations will rejuvenate you and burn some calories.

Physical activity is not only good for you physically, but it is also good for stress relief.  Here are some holiday/ winter time activities to consider:

 Heart Healthy Activity Tips:

1)    Participate in outings that involve physical activity like skiing, sleigh riding, ice skating and walking.

2)    At the shopping malls park in the furthest spot from the store to increase your walking.

3)    Go window shopping and enjoy the holiday decorations. Take your pedometer with you and count your steps.  Aim for 10,000 steps per day!

4)    Dance at holiday parties.

5)    Schedule exercise/physical activity into your daily routine. Exercise increases your energy level!

6)    Take the dog for a walk and enjoy the holiday decorations in the neighborhood.

7)    Go Christmas caroling (again walking is one of the best exercises).

8)    Cut down your own Christmas tree.

9)    Take the stairs whenever possible instead of elevators and escalators.

Don’t get frustrated if you cheat on your diet or miss some of your exercising this holiday season, remember tomorrow is another day and New Years is just around the corner.  Consider setting a healthy but “realistic” New Years resolution.  Happy Holidays!

Visit www.heart-strong.com for more health and wellness tips.  Looking for a healthy stocking stuffer or small gift for a co-worker, friend or relative check out our two heart healthy books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart” available at www.heart-strong.com or www.amazon.com


Healthy Holiday Tips

12/12/2009


Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes the Kids Will Love!

12/10/2009

The holiday season is upon us and that means delicious and sometimes not so healthy treats. Laurel Hudson, culinary instructor at Wellspring Academies (www.wellspringacademies.com) has created several tasty cookie recipes that the family will love.

 Gingerbread Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup Fiber One original bran cereal

1 package whole wheat gingerbread cake or cookie mix

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ cup granulated Splenda

Pinch of salt

½ cup canned pure pumpkin

¼ cup warm water

3 tbsp molasses

1 tsp vanilla

6 packets of Truvia no calorie sweetener

Pam spray

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with Pam.

3. In a food processor, grind the cereal until it looks like flour, then pour into a bowl.

4. Add the gingerbread mix, all the spices, the baking powder, Splenda, and salt and mix well.

5. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin with the warm water, molasses, and vanilla and mix well.

6. Add the pumpkin mixture to the other bowl and stir until blended.

7. Knead the dough to combine.

8. Roll the dough into 1/2” balls, making 36 cookies dough balls total, and place them on the cookie sheet.

9. Flatten balls or scoops with the back of a spoon dipped in the Truvia, so the dough doesn’t stick to the spoon.

10. Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes, or until the edges are firm.

11. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

12. Remove from the pan and enjoy!

 Approximate Nutritional Information:

54 calories/0.1g per cookie

Glazed Cranberry Orange Cookies

 Yield: 2 dozen cookies

 Ingredients:

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup Splenda, granulated

1 tbsp egg whites

2 tsp orange zest

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp ginger

1 cup chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp baking powder

Glaze:

½ cup Splenda, granulated

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp water

Pinch of salt

½ tsp vanilla

½ tsp orange extract

Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.   Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with Pam.

3.   Combine the applesauce, Splenda, egg whites, orange zest, salt, ginger, chopped cranberries, and vanilla in a bowl and stir.

4.    Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and stir until just combined, no longer.

5.    Drop by the small spoonful onto the baking pan.

6.    Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are firm.

7.    Combine the glaze ingredients and stir until smooth.

8.    Taste the glaze and adjust flavorings if needed.

9.    Let cool for 5 minutes, and then remove from the pan.

10.  Drizzle glaze over cookies.

 Approximate Nutritional Information:

27 calories/0.1g per cookie

Peppermint Meringue Crisps

Yield: 18 cookies

Ingredients:

·          Juice of 1 lemon

·          2 egg whites

·          Pinch salt

·          ¼ tsp cream of tartar

·          ½ cup Splenda, granular

·          1 sugar free candy cane

·          ½ tsp vanilla extract

·          2 tbsp sugar

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 300 F.

2.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with Pam.

3. Combine the egg whites, lemon juice, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar in a bowl.

4.   Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites into a meringue, until the whites are thick and stand up in peaks.

5.   Add the Splenda and vanilla and whip for 30 seconds.

6.   Drop by the spoonful onto pan, making 12 cookies.

7.   Crush the candy cane into small bits.

8.   Sprinkle the candy cane on top of the cookies.

9.   Bake 1 ½ hours, then turn the oven off and let the cookies sit in the oven while it is left partially open until the oven is cool.

10. Remove the cookies from the tray and enjoy!

 Approximate Nutritional Information:

12 calories/ 0g fat per cookie


Healthy Holiday Travel

11/11/2009

traveling

 The holiday season is upon us, which means lots travel, unhealthy food, memorable moments, and our famous excuses such as, ”I’m traveling, there are no healthy options!” and “I’ll work it all off when I get home.” A typical American may gain upwards of 15 pounds during the winter months, including holidays. Why put you and your body through this when there are simple tips and ways around the holiday bulge?

 Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, the only things moving are the means of transportation.

 When traveling by car, I suggest the following tips:

–          Stop to eat instead of sitting in the car and going through the drive-thru.  For the budget conscious, this doesn’t have to be at a restaurant, there are some great sandwich shops that offer healthy and affordable meals!  

–          Take a break from the long drive and walk around for 10-15 minutes, this short amount of time can be a great benefit to your health.  

–          For close destinations, pack a picnic.  This is a great way to get the family involved and find a great place to pull over and eat on the way. 

 When traveling by train:

–          Get up, walk around and stretch as much as you can. 

–          Bring snacks to avoid over eating the full, typically, unhealthy foods trains provide. Trail mix and nuts are some of the best options to bring!

–          Bring a book! The train is the perfect place to relax and stimulate your mind.

 While traveling by plane:

–          Power walk in the airport! Don’t worry, you won’t look weird, usually others who are late to their flights are doing the same so you’ll fit right in!

–          Make sure you plan ahead.  If you are traveling internationally check to see if they offer a vegan menu or bring your own food to eat that you know you’ll enjoy.  

–          Snack frequently, never allowing yourself to over eat or binge at one sitting.

–          Keep alcohol to a minimum while traveling, as well as caffeine, and sodium. All tend to dehydrate the body, and while flying it is important to stay hydrated, plus it helps prevent the dreaded jet lag!

 With these simple tips, you can help keep the pounds off while traveling this holiday season! Remember, being prepared is the key to traveling success!

 By Shauna Johnson, Culinary Instructor at Wellspring Weight Loss Camps. (www.wellspringweightloss.com)