Holiday Eating Survival Guide

Holiday Eating Survival Guide

Holiday Eating Survival Guide

For many of us, the Holiday season is the best time of the year. All these festivities have a common denominator…delicious and succulent food.

Some studies have shown that the average American can easily gain one to two pounds throughout the Holiday season. However, based on my experience treating overweight and obese patients, I have seen much higher numbers than the results of these studies. Weight gain during the Holidays can be a major setback for many individuals who have successfully lost weight during the year. With proper planning, it is possible to maintain the weight and still enjoy your favorite dish.

The traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas feast provides approximately 3500 calories per person, not counting additional parties, functions and other gatherings we will be attending. It will take approximately six to seven hours of moderate to intense cardio-aerobic exercises to burn the amount of calories consumed in only one day.

A few years ago, I came across a great article written by Shawna Gornick-Ilagan, MS, where she described the Three T Method.

I have used this methodology to counsel my patients, not only during the Holidays, but also while they are on vacations or attending social gatherings.

If you follow these steps, you will be able to maintain or even lose weight.

The “First T” is for “Tips” to avoid Holiday weight gain

1. Keep healthy snacks with you during this busy time and do not skip meals. Yes, it is true….there is no time for all those activities we need to accomplish before the big celebration day. However, always have with you a good quality protein bar or shake—it will help control cravings, help you avoid eating large portions of food at the end of the day, and help make better food choices.

2. Do not go to a party hungry. Before you head to your celebration, eat a lean protein or unrefined sugar snack—it will control your hunger and decrease your cravings.

3. Watch your portions. Moderation is always the key for successful weight maintenance.

4. Limit high fat and refined sugar items. Eat a well-balanced meal and increase your water intake. If possible, continue to exercise. If you have been good so far, enjoy a small portion of your favorite treat.

5. Keep alcohol to a minimum—it contains empty calories and can stimulate your appetite.

The “Second T” is for “Tricks” to avoid Holiday weight gain

1. You arrive at a party and find an abundance of exquisite treats on the table. To avoid indulging in them, move away from the buffet table and mingle with family, friends and guests. Wearing fitted attire will prevent you from overeating.

2. Select salad, vegetables and turkey first. It will fill you up and you will avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster frequently seen with items high in refined sugars. Be careful with salad dressing, stuffing and gravy. These items can easily add three to six hundred extra calories.

3. Instead of going for seconds, have the host pack some food to bring home.

4. Drink more water or reduced caloric fluids, it will help you eat less and keep you hydrated.

5. If you are staying with family or friends, ask them if you could have some space in their fridge. Pack and bring your own healthy snacks. Remember, low-fat food items are not necessarily a healthy snack. Read the food label and determine the amount of refined sugar, protein and fat.

If you are the hostess: You want to offer your guests some goodies, but remember their health, too. Be creative. Find recipes for attractive and appetizing dishes that may be good for you! Also, plan activities that will take the attention away from the food.

The “Third T” is for “Techniques” to avoid Holiday weight gain

1. Substitute ingredients in your recipes to reduce calories, fat and refined sugars. For example, unsweetened apple sauce is an excellent substitution for oil or butter in most pastry recipes.

2. Use appetizer-size plates. Eat slowly, allowing yourself to enjoy the flavor and texture of the food.

3. If you are invited to a family or friends’ house, bring a healthy dish that everyone will enjoy.

4. If possible, keep your usual routine of exercise or enjoy a nice walk with your loved ones. To keep yourself active while shopping during the Holiday season, park far away from the store entrance or walk the mall before you shop. Team up with a family member or a friend to keep you on track.

5. Do not wait for the New Year to start your resolutions. Keep your eye on the prize: a healthier you in the New Year.

Remember to enjoy the reason for the season—it’s not just the food!

Test Your Holiday Food IQ

Is Fat Good For Me?

Is Fat Good For Me?

Is Fat Good For Me?

Fat is an essential part of our diet. Without it, our bodies cannot function efficiently and we could develop serious medical conditions.

In a previous blog, I presented the relationship between the obesity epidemic and the consumption of fats and sugars (Click Here). Researchers have found that is the high amount of refined sugars and unhealthy fats in our diet that are responsible for the increase in overweight, obesity and associated medical conditions. That does not mean that we can indulge in eating high fat food. Any excess of calories we consume will be stored as fat, therefore making us heavier.

Healthy fats should be taken by anyone regardless of their health status. Most food has a combination of different types of fats. Always choose food that contains a higher ratio of good fats.

Let us start by defining what fat is.

Fats are a group of macronutrients known as “lipids”. Fat can be obtained from our diet or our body can produce it in the liver. Fats are stored in our body as fatty acids, which are molecules produced by the breakdown of the fat during the digestion process and then absorbed into the blood. Fat has many important functions in the body:

• Stores energy
• Helps in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K
• Promotes healthy nerve activity
• Precursors of essential substances in the body (e.g. hormones and prostaglandins)
• Maintains immune system
• Helps with the growth of hair, nails and skin
• Important component of cells membranes and cell development

If blood sugar (glucose) is not available for energy, the body uses stored fatty acids to provide the energy that we need.

Some omega- 3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats. A nutrient is called “essential” when the body cannot manufacture it and it can only be obtained from our food. Some amino-acids and fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are classified as essential. Our bodies require these nutrients to be able to function and operate effectively.

Here are a few types of fatty acids, based on their chemical structure:

1. Saturated fats or “bad fats” are the type of fats that mostly come from animal sources. It is usually solid at room temperature (butter and margarine). Fish and poultry have less saturated fat than red meat. Saturated fat can also be found in coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter. However, the health benefits of coconut oil are still controversial.

2. Trans fats: this type of fat has been changed by a chemical process called hydrogenation. Trans fats are solid at room temperature and used in a variety of commercially processed food products such as margarine, lard and shortening. Researchers have found that this type of fat is very dangerous and its consumption should be limited.

3. Unsaturated fats or “good fats” are liquid at room temperature (oil). It is mostly in oils from plants. Eating this type of fat may increase total cholesterol, both bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL).

Unsaturated fats come in two varieties:

Monounsaturated fats: “mono” means one unsaturated chemical bond. It is found in avocado, nuts, and vegetable oils such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. Omega-9 is a type of monounsaturated fat that the body can produce, but they are beneficial when obtained from the food.

Polyunsaturated fats: “Poly” means many unsaturated chemical bonds. It is found in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils. There a two types of essential fatty acids: linolenic and linoleic acids. These types of fats are used to build specialized fats called omega- 3 and omega- 6 fatty acids. Research studies have shown that supplementation with these fatty acids can prevent the development of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and brain deterioration leading to stroke or Alzheimer’s dementia.

A. Omega-3:
Plant source: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the only omega-3 found in plants. There is a small amount of omega-3 in walnuts, flaxseed, leafy greens, canola oil and soybean oil compare to animal products.
Animal source: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found on oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, herring, sardines, Pacific oysters and trout. These types of foods contain higher levels of omega- 3 compared to plant sources.

B. Omega 6:
This type of fats is more abundant is our diet. It is found in nuts and seeds, corn, olive and sunflower oil, shellfish and krill. Most people have higher amounts of omega- 6. The ratio of omega- 3 to omega-6 fatty acids should be 1:1 or 2:1.

A healthy diet should include 8 ounces or more of these types of fish a week or 2 grams daily of good quality fish oil supplements. Click on the link to learn the recommended daily intake fats from the Center of Disease Control:

Always review the nutrition label in the package to learn the amount of total fat, saturated fat and trans fats. Food labels are not required to list monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

At The Aesthetic and Wellness Center, we offer an analysis of body composition. This test helps us determine the amount or excess of fat mass and recommend a healthier and leaner body. Call us today set up an appointment.


Inda Mowett, MD

Antioxidant Foods

Antioxidant Foods

Antioxidant Foods

Antioxidant foods are treasured for their ability to fight disease, cancer, and aging. In this article, we will examine the top ten foods with highest antioxidant capacity:

Rank Food item Serving size Total antioxidant capacity
per serving size
1 Small Red Bean (dried) Half cup 13,727
2 Wild blueberry 1 cup 13,427
3 Red kidney bean (dried) Half cup 13,259
4 Pinto bean Half cup 11,864
5 Blueberry (cultivated) 1 cup 9,019
6 Cranberry 1 cup (whole) 8,983
7 Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7,904
8 Blackberry 1 cup 7,701
9 Prune Half cup 7,291
10 Raspberry 1 cup 6,058

But, what are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent, delay, or repair certain types of cell damage. They are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables, and also available as dietary supplements. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Small red beans

Beans contain eight flavonoids, plant substances that give many fruits and vegetables their colors. Scientists say these plant chemicals act as antioxidants to give you some protection against heart disease and certain cancers.

Wild blueberries

Blueberries are full of anthocyanins, a healthy plant chemical that gives them that beautiful blue color, and also provide some protection against heart disease. Some research also indicates that blueberries may have a positive effect on improving night vision and reducing blood glucose levels.

Red kidney beans

Red kidney beans are packed with protein, fiber, folate (vitamin B12), magnesium, potassium, and a number of other health promoting nutrients. The high amount of folate from red kidney beans, in particular, promotes excellent cardiovascular health!

Pinto beans

In addition to health benefits of pinto beans related to heart disease and cancer, studies also suggest eating beans may help manage diabetes and cut the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Blueberries (cultivated)

Blueberries contain no fat or cholesterol. They’re high in fiber and low in calories, and they make a great snack alone or as an additive to a cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt.


It has been known for a while that cranberries prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract, thus cutting down on the possibility of infections.

Cooked artichoke

Artichokes are low in calories and sodium, and packed with vitamin C, folate, and fiber. They also have phytonutrients that work to protect against many health risks including cancer, heart disease, liver dysfunction, high cholesterol, and diabetes.


This fruit is packed with anthocyanins, plant chemicals that gives them their deep color and act as antioxidants. Blackberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber!


Prunes are a good source of Vitamin A, an essential nutrient. They also are high in fiber, as well as beneficial in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, and diverticulitis.


This fruit helps fight inflammation and has been used to reduce arthritis-related pain. Raspberries are high in polyphenolic compounds, plant chemicals that act as powerful antioxidants that fight cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In summary, it is important to eat foods with antioxidants to help defend against free radicals. Free radicals, as you may have heard, can cause damage to cellular DNA. Eating antioxidant foods, however, gives you the protection you need to combat this damage.


“Antioxidants.” (2014, June 6). MedlinePlus. Retrieved from

Donaldson, D. (2009). Top 10 antioxidant foods. Better Homes & Gardens Network. Retrieved from

Eder, C. (2011, Nov). The amazing artichoke. Life Extension Magazine. Retrieved from

“Health benefits of eating red kidney beans.” (2014). Retrieved from

“Prunes rank #1 in antioxidant activity.” (2000). Stapleton-Spence Packing Co. Retrieved from

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The Aesthetic & Wellness Center is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or products that you obtain through this site. After reading articles, watching videos or reading other content from this website, you are encouraged to review the information carefully with your professional healthcare provider.

Break the Fast: Eat Breakfast

Break the Fast: Eat Breakfast

Break the Fast: Eat Breakfast

Your mom told you to eat breakfast – and she was right!

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Food is meant to give you nutrients and energy, and without eating, you have neither. Think about it this way – you’ve been asleep for 7 or 8 hours and you haven’t had any food during this time. Your body needs fuel when you awake to replenish your energy supply!

Not only do you need breakfast for energy to start a new day, but it is also linked to many health benefits including improved nutrition, focused thinking, and weight control.

A good, healthy, breakfast is one that is nutrient-dense and high in protein. The protein will support lean body mass and keep you feeling full longer. Without eating breakfast, you are more vulnerable to cravings for sugars or simple carbohydrates and less likely to make healthy choices in the morning and throughout the day.

Whether you are on a diet to lose weight or eating for good health, breakfast is essential to start your day on the right path to healthy eating.

Many studies, in both adults and children, have shown that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast skippers. A theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast can reduce hunger throughout the day, and allow people make better food choices at other meals. One study, in particular, tracked nearly 10,000 young people from adolescence into their twenties and found that not only did skipping breakfast lead to being overweight, but people who missed breakfast also increased the number of times eating at fast food restaurants, and both unhealthy behaviors caused them to gain weight.

So, while it might seem you could save calories by missing breakfast, this is not an effective strategy. This can actually place your body in starvation mode, which will promote fat storage.

Eating breakfast is important for everyone, but is especially so for children and adolescents, since it improves mental focus.

According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. One study has even suggested that feeding children a healthy breakfast every day could increase their IQ.

Specifically, a high-protein, high-fiber, low glycemic index breakfast like oatmeal with Greek yogurt will allow children to do better in school and give adults better concentration at work or at the gym. Sugary cereals or pastries, on the other hand, may give you a big surge of energy initially, but will leave you sluggish or sleepy by mid-morning as well as hungry soon after.

As previously mentioned, breakfast is essential for weight loss.

A theory behind the link between breakfast and weight control implies that eating breakfast is part of a healthy lifestyle that includes making smart food choices and balancing calories with exercise. So, to successfully reach your weight goals, you need to make lifestyle changes. A meal high in protein is best because, as already stated, it will be the boost you need to help keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

No matter what your nutrition or weight loss goals are, eating breakfast allows you to mentally start the day off right. When eating breakfast becomes part of your daily routine, you start taking ownership of it, become more consistent, and feel that you are making a positive change. Physically or nutritionally, when you have breakfast, there is more of a guarantee that you’re getting the nutrients you need every day.

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