Good Nutrition and the Holiday Season

It seems we are constantly being given guidelines about the right way to eat and at the same time being sabotaged with advertisements for enticing, delicious and questionably healthy foods. Just what is good nutrition and why do we want to seek it out particularly during the holiday season?

Good nutrition is defined as adhering to a set of guidelines put forth by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as the healthiest patterns of eating.  Good nutrition means we are getting a balance of nutrients that are moderate in calories, adequate to meet our nutrient needs, and varied enough in content to provide the complexity of benefits from eating a wide array of foods.

To practice good nutrition during the holidays means following a few simple steps.  They are not always easy, but practicing them can help avoid the disastrous results that many of us face at the turn of the year when we are scrambling to buy the latest weight loss product or find a gym to join to undo the damage.

1.  Eat 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Have a piece of fruit before going to a holiday party as a way of decreasing your hunger pangs.  Sometimes snacking between meals is a good thing!

2.  Avoid sugary beverages that add only empty calories and can raise blood sugar in susceptible individuals with pre-diabetes and Type II diabetes.  Instead, choose mixers such as club soda or diet soda.  Even fruit juices can raise blood glucose levels in some individuals.

3. Watch portion sizes when enjoying your holiday meals.  A serving size of prime rib is about the size of a deck of cards (three ounces) while a serving of cheese is about the size of 4 stacked dice!  Make your servings of vegetables larger and enjoy them with a reduced fat onion dip or a roasted red pepper hummus spread.

4.  Stack on the fiber.  We as Americans are typically very low in our fiber intake.  A hallmark of good nutrition is to have a high intake of fiber.  A good recommendation is 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men.  To introduce this level of fiber requires a change in food choices for many of us. Finding whole foods to include in our meals such as whole grains, brown rice, and fresh vegetables will go a long way towards increasing fiber.  Fiber will help us to control our hunger, can help to lower cholesterol, and assist in blunting the response of our blood to sugars in our diet. Foods high in fiber include:

  • BROWN RICE vs. white rice
  • WHOLE GRAIN BREAD vs. white bread
  • WHOLE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES vs. deep fried vegetable appetizers
  • FRUIT SALADS such as a Waldorf Salad made with apples, celery and raisins
  • TOSSED GREEN SALAD with a mixture of greens, red and green bell peppers, carrots and onion
  • CARROT AND RAISIN SALAD with a light mayonnaise dressing
  • POPCORN for a snack instead of chip and dip
  • WHOLE GRAIN TORTILLA CHIPS with Guacamole

About the Author:

Cynthia Chandler is a faculty member who joined Sullivan University as a nutrition and food service sanitation instructor.  She came to Sullivan after a varied career in both hospital and university affiliated positions. Cynthia completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics and Institution Administration from Western Kentucky University. She went on to the University of Kentucky, where she was awarded a master’s degree with honors in Clinical Nutrition from the College of Allied Health.  Upon graduation, she sat for and successfully passed the board for the American Dietetic Association to become a registered dietitian.  She is a licensed dietitian and a certified nutritionist in the state of Kentucky. She is also licensed in the state of Florida as a dietician.

Cynthia has served on the board of the American Association of Diabetes Educators and is a current member of the Food and Culinary Professionals Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association, The American Culinary Federation, The Kentucky Dietetic Association, and the Association of Food and Nutrition Professionals.

Cynthia completed her culinary training at Sullivan University in the winter of 2010.  She has developed and conducted workshops on canning, healthy southern cuisine and healthy menu ideas, in conjunction with her chef colleagues.

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