Tips to get through the parties without the extra pounds

November 22, 2011|Melissa Tewes and Joe Fleischman | Your Health Matters
  • One way to get around indulging at holiday parties is to bring your own dish, such as this roasted butternut squash and goat cheese lasagna.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Special to The Herald-Mail

Holidays can be a fearful time in relation to food, nutrition and health.

The holidays are here, which means there will be plenty of parties and potluck meals — where you have little control over items being served. Not to mention the food gifts, and the cookies and snacks around the office.  

Along with all of the holiday cheer comes a lot of stress surrounding preparing your home for company, hosting parties, and buying gifts.

Holidays often trigger "stress eating" and with all of the extras around, it can be difficult to resist. How can we make sure we aren't setting ourselves up for the stand by New Year's Resolution to lose the extra weight most people put on over the holidays?

Holidays should be treated no differently than any other time of the year.

We encounter situations on a regular basis where we must choose to resist temptation.  

Obviously, there will most likely be more temptation during this time of year, but the challenge of continuing with healthy eating and exercise habits will be well worth it.  

Avoid typical excuses  to rationalize overindulging during the holidays such as being a "special occasion," "fear of offending the hostess" and plans to "start over after New Year's."   

Continue with the healthy habits you have worked so hard to develop throughout the year.  

Continue to plan meals in advance and track your food intake daily. Think about what you are putting in your mouth and how much.

Fitness should continue to be a priority and consider adding a few extra minutes of exercise on days that you might be eating a little more than usual.  

Make sure you have plenty of healthful snacks at work to allow resistance to the extra cookies and candies often laying around the breakroom. Continue to eat small, frequent meals to avoid long periods of times between meals and snacks.

 This will allow you the ability to make wise choices and eat slowly. If you receive food gifts try regifting, sharing with office mates, or donating to a local food bank.

It is true that you will be tempted with plenty of delicious foods. Having healthy eating habits does not mean that you cannot enjoy your favorite foods. Everything can fit, in moderation.  

When attending parties, luncheons or potluck meals, plan ahead by bringing a healthful dish of your own to share.  

Don't arrive hungry, instead try having a snack right before arriving.  

Plan what you will eat by scanning the table and choosing which foods you wish to try.  

Do not start with an empty plate and start piling on every food that looks remotely interesting.  

Use a smaller plate so that you are forced to make choices. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, and once you decide which other foods you would like to try, take small amounts of each food to fill up the remainder.   

If you feel the need to go back for seconds, wait a few minutes to allow your body time to "catch up" and think about if you are really still hungry or if you are eating for other reasons.  

Also, try focusing on the social aspect of parties and get togethers by moving the conversation away from the food table.  

While you are eating, try to stay focused on that rather than socializing because often times, you wont even realize how much you are actually consuming and will not be able to pay attention to body signals that you are satisfied.

 Lastly, try experimenting with recipe modifications to make your favorite dishes a little healthier.

Melissa Tewes is the clinical nutrition manager at Meritus Medical Center. She has 16 years of experience as a registered dietitian and is also a certified personal trainer.


Be bold with this tasty recipe

By Joe Fleischman

Special to The Herald-Mail

Tired of making the same old lasagna for your holiday pot lucks?  

Try this unusual recipe that has all the flavor of the original with half the fat and calories.  

Bold, tangy goats cheese is mixed with creamy butternut squash to create a real crowd pleaser that will have everyone wanting more, along with the recipe. If you can't find the goats cheese, feel free to substitute feta or acorn squash for the butternut.  

Anyway you layer it, this  lasagna is sure to please.

Joe Fleischman is executive chef at Meritus Medical Center. He has 20 years of experience as a professional chef, culinary instructor and speaker. Watch Fleischman on Antietam Cable Channel 30 Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 10 a.m. and Mondays at 2 p.m.

Roasted butternut squash and goat cheese lasagna

1 butternut squash, halved and seeds removed

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 package lasagna noodles, cooked

3 cups cottage cheese

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 jar marinara sauce

2 cups parts skim mozzarella cheese

4 cups goat cheese crumbles

To cook the squash, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place squash skin side down on sheet tray, rub flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Place in oven to roast for about 45 minutes or until squash is softened.

Place squash in refrigerator to cool. Once squash is cooled, scrape flesh from skin using a large spoon. Save squash in a large mixing bowl and discard skin.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

For the lasagna, cook noodles according to package directions, reserve. Add cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg to roasted squash. Mix well. In a 9-inch-by-9-inch baking dish layer marinara sauce, noodles, squash mixture, mozzarella cheese and goat cheese. Repeat 3 to 4 times or until pan is full.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.  

Serve with garlic bread and side salad.

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