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How to indulge sensibly this New Year's
Seema Hakhu Kachru |
December 29, 2005
As we gear up to welcome the New Year with extravagant parties and mouth-watering dinners, it is hard not to ignore that niggling voice that reminds you about the pounds you are going to gain once the festivities are done with.
An average adult gains over three pounds during this time of the year, as per recent research. But depriving yourself of special holiday food, or feeling guilty when you do enjoy it, isn't a healthy eating strategy. And deprivation and guilt certainly are not part of the holiday spirit.
"The key to enjoy sumptuous holiday food is in the balance and moderation," says Dr Lalita Kaul, the national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (the largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with 65,000 members) and a professor of nutrition at the department of community health and family practice, Howard University, Washington.
"Enjoying a traditional holiday feast and party foods with family and friends doesn't need to destroy the healthy habits you have nurtured all year long," says Srinagar-born Kaul.
~ "Eat low calorie foods during the day and have a light snack before going to a party to take the edge off your hunger. Starvation can sabotage even the strongest willpower," says Kaul.
~ Avoid rushing to the food when you arrive at a party. Indulge in conversation, which is calorie-free. Meet and greet people, get a beverage and move away from the buffet table because unconscious nibbling becomes too easy.
~ "Make just one trip to the buffet table and choose only the foods you really want to eat, and keep portions small," says Kaul who received her PhD in nutrition, biochemistry and physiology from University of Maryland and has published over 40 papers on nutrition.
~ Trying to lose weight during this time may be self-defeating. Instead try to maintain weight," she adds.
~ Forget the all-or-nothing mindset, and instead opt for lower calorie foods like fruits and vegetables.
~ Nothing is bad if taken in moderation, not even the chocolates. Chocolate is a pleasure food "with reduced health risks." Her advice: "Choose dark chocolates in preference to whole milk ones."
"And if you are having two bars a day, cutting it down to just one at first, and then to a half. Half a bar dark chocolate is indeed good for your health, for the protein in it is easier to digest than that in whole milk ones."
General diet dos
~ Kaul advocates never skipping a meal, especially breakfast. "It's better to eat something in the morning than to skip breakfast entirely, in fact, if you have to skip a meal, skip lunch".
~ "Indian people must have their rich Indian food," says Kaul, however with simpler changes and by using low fat recipes and avoiding ghee, the same can be made both tasty and heart healthy.
~ Women have a lower metabolic rate than men. As they get older lean body muscle gets converted to adipose fat. Therefore they must modify habits with each change in life cycle, following healthier diets and exercise regimen. "Indian women must not take it easy after becoming mothers, which is a general trend," she adds.
~ Above all look strategies to complement your meal plan. Turn off the television during meals. Exercise daily to regulate satiety in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls appetite. Use smaller plates. And stay hydrated by drinking five to six glasses of water a day, adds Lalita Kaul.