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Holiday Weight Loss Management

Holiday Weight Loss Management

December 12, 2011.
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (EST)

  • Lillian Craggs-Dino, RD - Nutritionist

Americans tend to gain between 1 and 2 pounds of permanent weight during the holiday season.

Cleveland_Clinic_Host: Today's Live Web Chat, "Holiday Weight Management" with Lillian Craggs-Dino, RD will begin at 12 noon EST. Please submit your questions by typing them below and then clicking 'Ask'.

Cleveland_Clinic_Host:Welcome to our Online Health Chat "Holiday Weight Management" with Lillian Craggs-Dino, RD. We are thrilled to have her here today for this chat. Let’s begin with the questions.

KellsBells: I often attend dinner parties around this time of the year and I have no idea how many calories are in anything since most everything was homemade and I can't just look on the back of a box for nutrition info. I do limit portions, but I always end up putting on a few pounds! What can I do to have a better idea of the calories I am actually eating?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: One thing you may want to offer is to bring a healthier dish to the dinner party. Portion control like you are doing is excellent and I would suggest you also increase your physical activity. Perhaps you can go out for a walk after dinner or play music and dance away those calories! Also, be mindful of what you are drinking. Alcoholic beverages and holiday coffees have many calories. A cup of eggnog can have over 300 calories!

ggalovich: Are there preferred sugars out there that can be used for baking and cooking that are considered healthy? Is raw sugar the best? I would prefer to stay away from sugar substitutes.

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Sugar, whether it is raw sugar or white sugar have the same amount of calories; You can try using dried fruit or unsweetened applesauce to give your baked items that sweet taste and cut the sugar in half. Or you can use brown sugar, molasses or honey. Because these sugars have a stronger flavor and sweetness, you can actually use less. For example, substitute 1/2 cup of brown sugar for 1 cup of white sugar and you will get similar sweetness.

smitty47: Do you know of any good, healthy recipes for traditional holiday dishes? I would really like to start being a little more health conscious without taking away from the traditions my family loves… Healthy but tasty green bean casserole? Pumpkin pie? etc? If you can't send recipes, do you have a website I could look at?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: You can definitely make traditional holiday foods healthier just by making some minor substitutions. For example, use egg substitute instead of whole eggs, use fat free half and half or fat free evaporated milk instead of cream; you can use applesauce to replace eggs to reduce the fat even further; use a lot of holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice and reduce the sugar without compromising taste. Try the website for "Eating Well" and "Cooking Light". They have excellent recipes that are low calorie and tasty.

RaffTaff: I do most of the cooking and would like to have some general nutritional rules to follow to keep it healthier this year. Any pointers?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: The general rule of good nutrition is variety and portion control, especially around the holidays. For holiday cooking you can reduce the amount of calories by reducing sugars and fat. Even using eggbeaters over a whole egg can reduce more than 50 calories. When you make your holiday meals, make the focus brightly colored fruits and veggies and use lean proteins such as turkey, ham, and pork roast.

rtimp: Can you provide some examples of holiday dishes that are festive, yet healthy?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: For main dishes, keep protein sources lean such as roasted turkey, ham, and pork roast. You can make healthier side dishes such as roasted veggies; instead of using fat laden gravies, cook with fruit to make a healthy accompaniment. Instead of mashed potatoes, try baking sweet potatoes or squash with a touch of cinnamon for that festive flavor.

eish54: Holidays cause a lot of stress and I tend to just eat all the time... snacking all day without event thinking about it. I have tried to put out healthy snacks, but that hasn't helped much. DO you have any idea on how to better manage my food intake without adding the stress of having to count my calories for every bite?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Holiday time can be very stressful. A good remedy for that would be get some physical activity and meditation into your day. As far as snacking, the best habit is to wake up and have a balanced breakfast so you start the day the right way. Instead of snacking, reach for a low calorie beverage. Make up your mind to eat 3 meals per day and if you want a snack, reach for a fruit or serving of veggie. You don't want to add to stress by gaining weight during the holidays. Try for weight maintenance during this time.

missy457: Any healthy but fun holiday party appetizer ideas??

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Of course the fruit and veggie platter with a healthy hummus dip! Seafood is also a healthy appetizer such as shrimp cocktail, stone claws, and scallops wrapped in low fat ham. Mini quiche make with egg substitute and fat free half-n-half also make nice appetizers. I also make a chicken breast shish-ka-bob with chicken breast and fruit like pineapple; put them on little skewers. Check out Cooking Light for some more recipes.

ggalovich: Does using applesauce change the texture of the baked good??

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: I find that applesauce make baked items "fluffier" and less "heavy". Very tasty and reduces many calories. This is a great substitution.

dpaleo: This question is for the web chat 12/12/2011. My gastroenterologist wants me to see a nutritionist to help me with my low salt and other issues. And I need to lose weight. Do you see patients at the Weston Cleveland Clinic?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: We have a non-surgical weight loss program that is a 9-week program where you can see a nutritionist and psychologist. Please call 954-659-5872 for more information. We can also take into account a low sodium diet for you.

jrg369: What are some realistic goals to set over the holidays? I always run into problems where I set goals I cannot reach - like 'I will limit my calorie intake to 1300 for the day and walk for an hour after dinner' - 1300 calories is not very much when you are eating all of the traditional holiday favorite foods...

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Re-evaluate your goals. Perhaps instead of putting all the focus on reducing your calories, you can focus on increasing your physical activity. Or perhaps the goal during the holidays should be weight maintenance until the holidays are over and then move onto calorie restriction; research shows that decreasing calories alone does not lead to permanent weight loss. You need calorie restriction and exercise. For the holidays, just naturally reduce portions rather than counting calories and this way you can take the stress out of reducing your calorie intake.

Cleveland_Clinic_Host: For those now joining us, we are currently chatting with Lillian Craggs-Dino, RD, who is taking your questions about weight management over the holidays. To ask a question, type in the box below and then click 'Ask'

jillybean: There is a lot of attention on avoiding gluten, even if you do not have an allergy. Will avoiding gluten help in weight loss? And do you know of any good recipes or websites I can get some of the standard holiday food recipes that are gluten free? (What is gluten and why is it getting such a bad rep?)

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, oats and barley. Some people have a severe allergy to gluten called Celiac and eating gluten would make them very sick. For those who do not have Celiac, it becomes a choice if you want to eliminate gluten from your diet. But this would exclude many fine grains that are needed for overall health. If you want to avoid gluten you can use grains that are gluten free such as corn, quinoa, millet, and others. However, if you exceed your calorie needs whether with gluten or gluten free products, this would not help you with weight loss. For gluten free recipes, get on the websites for Celiac Disease.

misslyss: Does using fresh ingredients as opposed to canned or premade items make a difference from a nutritional standpoint? I normally will use the premade mashed potatoes and canned green beans/mushroom soup. Is it healthier for you if you use all fresh produce?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Frozen fruits and veggies are shown to hold their nutritional value even better than fresh because they are blast frozen after harvesting. Fresh fruits and veggies are also excellent, but depending on how long they have been sitting on the shelf, exposure to light and air can effect nutritional value. As far as canned, these products still hold nutritional value, however, be wary of the sodium content. Always look for low sodium or sodium free.

billyd: What can I do to cut down the fat in my holiday gravy? Ingredients or cooking prep?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Modify ingredients. Don't use fat drippings, you can use skim milk instead of cream, and I find using arrowroot or cornstarch makes thick gravy but you can use less of this starch rather than flour.

dpaleo: Can you explain how the 9 week weight loss program works? How often would I need to come in?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: You would need to come in once per week at a set time. The first visit is individual and the subsequent weeks are in a group. Please feel free to go to the Cleveland Clinic Florida website for more details such as times, cost, etc.

LaurenD: Are there certain foods that are better digested if eaten together?/p>

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Our body is equipped to digest all macronutrients such as carbs, proteins, and fats. The healthiest way to eat is a combination of foods such as lean protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies. The body will secrete the appropriate digestive enzymes when needed. There is no consensus in the research to show that separating nutrients is better for digestion.

carollee03: I am 69 have gone off estrace.50 last Oct. No matter how much I exercise, and watch portions, I am gaining ..7pounds now. I think it is the lack or estrogen. Can this be true???

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: There are many contributing factors to weight gain and weight loss including food intake, exercise, hormones, etc. If you feel you are not losing weight, the best thing is to keep a food diary so you can see exactly what you are eating and how many calories. Even without Estrace, it is not impossible to lose weight if caloric intake is balanced with caloric output.

TPB4076: can you go over portions we should take into consideration when sitting down for our holiday meal?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: A typical holiday meal with having only 1 serving (no seconds) can have over 2200 calories and this is not including drinks and appetizers. Keep your portions to 1-5 ounces of protein, 1-2 servings of starch (1/2 cup each); increase your veggie serving as long as it is not laden with a lot of fat or cheese and keep

Cleveland_Clinic_Host: We have approximately 15 minutes left in the chat. Please continue submitting your questions and we will get to as many as possible before our time is up. If you have additional questions after the chat, please use our contact link to submit your questions.

Sammygirl: Most dinners take a long time because people are eating so much. Wanting to avoid overeating, how small should bites be? I also heard that you should take a sip of water in-between each bite to avoid overeating. How well does that work?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: What you are describing is "mindful eating." You can put your fork down between bites; you can chew food 25 times; you can take small sips of water; All of these eating mechanics can help you to feel full on less because your brain gets the signal from your stomach that you are full.

Rafftaff: Are there certain types of alcohol that are higher in fact than others?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Most definitely. 1 cup of eggnog is 343 calories because it is made with cream and eggs; typically wine and beer have about 120-150 calories. Mixed drinks made with juices tend to be higher because of the sugars in the juice. Even a margarita has about 170 calories per serving. Typically champagne has lower calories at about 85 calories per 5 ounces. Pure liquor (scotch, vodka, etc) have about 100 calories per 1.5 ounces. Therefore the message is limit those creamy drinks and mixed drinks with juices and

Whitneskey: I have children and want to make them a dish that is healthy but low in fat and sugar... any suggestions?

Lillian_Craggs-Dino_RD: Kids are choosey, and certainly if you are a healthy role model they will take after you. If you cook your own food, use low fat or fat free items and use less sugar. Introduce your kids to more fruits and veggies.

Cleveland_Clinic_Host: I'm sorry to say that our time with Lillian Craggs-Dion, RD is now over. Thank you again, Lillian, for taking the time to answer our questions today about Holiday Weight Management. To make an appointment with any of our dietitians, or any other specialists at Cleveland Clinic Florida, please call 877.463.2010. You can also visit us online at vanity