Be Calorie Wise for Thanksgiving

The average American eats about 3,000 to 3,500 calories during Thanksgiving lunch / dinner (the actual meal). This usually comes to over 4,000 calories for the day in total. Throw in second helpings of dessert and other goodies and you can imagine how that can spiral out of control.

Here are some helpful holiday tips to help you avoid gaining the usual 5-10 pounds during the holiday season.

1. Chew sugarless gum while cooking. This may help decrease food sampling.

2. Drink a glass of water before eating. Water is a natural appetite suppressant and may help with overeating during this holiday season.

3. Make a deal with your friends or family that there will be a healthy alternative for every unhealthy dish (ex. Marshmallow Yams and then have sweet potatoes or Stuffing and then have steamed vegetables.)

4. Bring your own healthy, tasty dish to a family or friend holiday gathering.

5. Eat slowly. It can take your brain up to 20 minutes to realize that you are full. Put your fork down between bites or take 2 to 3 breaths before taking another bite. Eat until you are satisfied not full.

6. Finally, try to avoid drinking alcohol because it reduces inhibition and may result in overeating. Instead, try drinking apple cider, fruit juice or light eggnog.

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Health Benefits of Pumpkin

PumpkinPumpkins pack a powerful nutritional punch. Just a half cup has about 25 calories, is high in fiber, low in fat and loaded with vitamin A which helps protect against infections plus keeps your eyes and skin healthy. Pumpkin also has more potassium than a banana.

Both canned pumpkin and fresh have about the same nutritional values. When buying canned pumpkin, check the label to make sure it is 100 percent pumpkin and not canned pumpkin pie mix which is higher in calories.

Fresh pumpkin must be roasted before you can use it in a recipe, which you can do easily in an oven or microwave. Just cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and cook until tender. Then scoop out the flesh and puree it in a blender or food processor before adding it to your recipe. Look for a pie pumpkin in the produce section, which is about the size of a melon and much smaller than the traditional carving pumpkin used for Halloween.

And don’t forget the pumpkin seeds which are a great snack. A cup of pumpkin seeds in the shell contain 285 calories and about 11 grams of protein. They also contain polysterols which help reduce cholesterol levels.

With the holidays just around the corner comes the onslaught of food and more food. Good news is that many of the foods on the Thanksgiving table, like pumpkin, can be very good for you when prepared without added sugar or fats. Next week’s Eat Smart! will feature some eating strategies to help you get through the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Move! Walk Yourself Happy

Exercise has such a profound effect on our happiness and well-being that it’s actually been proven to be an effective strategy for overcoming depression. In one research study, three groups of patients treated their depression with either medication, exercise, or a combination of the two. All three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels to begin with but what happened over time was drastically different.

Six months later, the groups were tested again to determine their relapse rate.

Medication alone: 38% had slipped back into depression

Combination of exercise and medication: 31% had slipped back into depression

Exercise alone: Only 9% relapse!

You don’t have to be depressed to gain benefit from exercise, though. It can help you to relax, increase your brain power and improve your health.

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Complete Guide to Calories

By using the Walkingspree Food Tracker, you can compare your calories consumed with your calories burned. This infographic does a fantastic job helping you understand calories. You can even check how many steps you need to walk to burn off a particular food item, along with minutes of cycling and swimming.

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Eat Smart! Healthy eating and breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This pink ribbon effort puts the focus on education and fundraising events to find a cure.

Breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of death in women according to the CDC. No food can prevent you from getting breast cancer, but a healthy diet can boost your immune system and help keep your risk as low as possible. Some research studies have focused on food and its relationship to breast cancer. Here are a few findings.

Alcohol: Women drinking five or more drinks a week were linked to a higher risk of breast cancer than those who don’t drink, according to an American Cancer Society study. They recommend not drinking alcohol if you are in a high risk cancer group.

Antioxidants: Study after study suggests antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may lower risk of cancers, including breast cancer.

Weight gain: Women who gain between 21 to 30 pounds after age 18 have a 40 percent increase in risk of breast cancer, even if they were not at a perfect weight when younger. The reason is tied to the rise of overall body fat which results in increased insulin and estrogen levels, both of which have been linked to breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends an overall healthy diet of fruits and vegetables (five or more servings a day), whole grains and limited amounts of processed and red meats. And, of course, exercise. Check last Monday’s Move Smart! for more information about how walking can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

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