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 Ten Tips for Cooking Healthy over the Holidays & Seven Tips for Healthy Eating
By Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.,
Author of The Healthiest Meals on Earth

Ten Tips for Cooking Healthy Over the Holidays

Here are some of our best suggestions for making holiday food even healthier!

1. Replace some butter with some olive oil, for a better balance of healthy fats. Try a 50/50 mix.
2. Replace heavy carbs such as potatoes and stuffing with herbs that can flavor up a turkey or vegetables.
3. Go organic to avoid hormones, pesticides, and antibiotic residues in meat or produce.
4. Replace mayonnaise with low-fat yogurt for tasty dressings without the extra fat and artificial stuff. (Note: There's nothing wrong with mayonnaise, especially homemade from real eggs, but you'll
save some calories this way.)
5. Trim all visible fat from meats. Stick with lean cuts and white meat.
6. Consider more nutrient-dense foods for desserts such as sweet potatoes, pecans, and pumpkin. You'll feel better about doing a little overindulging if the choices are healthier.
7. Check ingredients on any cans that you use. High-fructose corn syrup can reside in any package or can, and it is certain to be in canned cranberries. Avoid the bad sugars and look for fresher ingredients.
8. When choosing honey, try to find raw, unfiltered, cold-pressed organic honey. 
9. Don't overdo the number of courses. Stick with a few basics for a satisfying meal that doesn't overstuff your guests.
10. Consider serving a salad as the last course (or dessert).

 Seven Tips for Holiday Eating

Wonderful as holidays may be for everything else, they can be downright deadly for sticking to a weight loss plan.

Because holiday eating can mean so many things -- family stuff, office parties, special desserts, and the inevitable boxes of cookies at the water cooler -- it's hard to come up with one surefire strategy that will work for everyone in all situations. One strategy, however, will invariably make a difference no matter what the particulars of the situation: rehearsal.

Most of us know what we're going up against. For some it's the sight of the holiday table and relatives you haven't seen all year. For others, it's virtually everyone in the office bringing in their aunt's special Christmas cookies. For still others it's the stress eating associated with the mixed emotions of family reunions and juggling even more commitments than the usual overload. Even vacations can be stressful, and if they happen to involve airports at holiday time it's a no-contest. Add it up and you've got a potential disaster. In fact, forget the "potential" part. You're looking at emotional and physical overload, and what that means for your waistline (let alone your sense of well-being) is not good.

Rehearsing a problem situation in your mind before it happens helps you to arm yourself with strategies, visualize yourself doing them, and experience the positive results. That way you're not caught unprepared, and you can actually practice reading to a variety of dangerous situations.

That's what coaches do with their athletes; it's what boxing trainers do with their fighters. "When he throws that left hook, you step in under and throw a right to the body." Studies have shown improvement in sports performance just through visualization exercises, in which, for example, basketball players mentally "practice" shooting baskets under various conditions. You can do the same thing with the holidays.

Of course, to do this effectively, you have to be clear on what you want to happen. That's why I like using a tool I call the "proactive food journal." Here's how to do it: Pick a day, visualize what it's going to be like, where you're going to be, and with whom. Think about what food is likely available, when you're likely to be hungry, and what the circumstances are going to be. (Is your Aunt Tina going to be there insisting you try her special key lime pie? Are you going to be in a restaurant known for its crème brûlée and homemade breads? Are you going to be in a fast-food restaurant taking care of six kids? Is the sister whom you hate going to be there silently dging everything you eat?

Now write down what you're going to eat. Decide in advance, early in the day even the night before. Visualize the action. If there's temptation or anxiety, close your eyes and picture it. Hear in your mind's ear What people will say. See yourself responding in a way that would make you proud of yourself. That might be allowing yourself one or two bites of something "off your diet," or it might mean being spartan. The point here is not what you choose, but that you choose it.

And that you then stick to it.

As Sondheim wrote, "The choice may have been mistaken. The choosing was not." The point here is to put you in charge of what happens, not the circumstances.

If you can accomplish that, you have begun a journey that will help you manage your weight, and one that will empower you in all areas of your life.

Here are seven tips on how to use visualization to help you with holiday eating.

1. Close your eyes and really picture the situation clearly.
2. Ask yourself whether what's being offered is going to be something that supports you in what you're doing or takes you off course.
3. Decide what you wish to allow yourself to indulge in -- if anything -- and when you decide to do it, indulge in it with gusto.
4. Make the choice and take the action.
5. Don't arrive hungry. A cup of soup or vegetable juice before arriving at a big event will help keep you in charge of your own actions.
6. Remember that stress leads to stress eating. Stress management is a critical part of managing weight gain during the holiday season.
7. If you do indulge, for goodness' sake enjoy it!

©2008 Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Author Bio
Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S, is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health. He's a board-certified nutrition specialist with a master's degree in psychology, a life coach, motivational speaker, and former personal trainer with six national certifications. His most recent book is the much-praised The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth. His book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising Truth about What You Should Eat and Why has been endorsed by a virtual who's who in the world of integrative medicine and nutrition, including Mehmet Oz, M.D., Christiane Northurp, M.D., and Barry Sears, Ph.D.