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What Are The Healthiest Holiday Foods?

Making Healthy Holiday Food Choices

It’s estimated that Americans gain at least one pound, and up to five pounds of weight, between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Repeat that for a few years and we look less and less like our high school yearbook photo.

But that doesn’t have to be the case, if we learn what foods to embrace and what foods to avoid.  Here’s a list of both:
Healthy Holiday Foods

The phytochemicals that impart the red color to cranberries are powerful anti-aging antioxidants. They also reduce the ability of bacteria to stick to our cells thereby reducing the risk of urinary infections.

Apples and Applesauce
Contain heart healthy fiber and compounds like quercetin and ellagic acid that are powerful antioxidants and protect against cardiovascular disease and inflammation which is involved in almost all chronic disease.

Dark Chocolate
Seventy percent or more cocoa content contains the most flavonols — helpful plant substances that help protect the heart and arteries.

Green Beans
Naturally low in calories, string beans are loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect your bones. Also, a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. But skip heavy sauces with this vegetable. Try beans lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon.

Nuts are chock-full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. 

Pumpkin Pie
This rich orange vegetable contains carotenoids for making Vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium and fiber.  Beware: most pies are loaded with sugar – use artificial sweetener instead of sugar for a lower calorie dessert.

Yams & Sweet Potatoes
Yams offer carotenoids, potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber. Candied yams are high in sugar. Bake with a bit of brown sugar, or with artificial sweetener, for the taste without the calories. 

And some additional choices that are health and weight friendlier:

  • Whole grains, such as whole-wheat rolls, wild rice, and quinoa
  • Shrimp, lobster, and other steamed seafood
  • Plain or lightly dressed vegetables
  • Meat and poultry without the gravy
  • Salad greens (lightly dressed)
  • Fresh fruit

Foods to Avoid During the Holidays With Possible Substitutes

Swedish meatballs – instead, try some cold cuts like ham or turkey

EggNog – instead, try a cinnamon or other spiced tea

Stuffed potatoes – instead, eat a regular baked potatoe or red potatoes

Creamed spinach – instead, spinach without the cream or broccoli

Pot Roast – instead, breast of turkey or sliced steak

Fruitcake – instead, a fruit tart

Pecan Pie – instead, a fruit tart

Cheese Cake – instead, a slice of pound cake

Croissant – instead, some whole grain bread

Hot Buttered Rum – just leave out the butter, and then spice with nutmeg

Cinnamon Rolls – instead, a slice of toasted whole grain bread with a bit of jelly

Ice Cream – instead, sorbet

Making sensible diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty holiday.

Making healthy diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty and healthy holiday season!


Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.



We have written previously about the fact that the artificial sweetener, aspartame (NutraSweet and other brands) is an excite-toxin and can literally kill brain cells.

We have reported on another study that showed that people consuming diet sodas did not lose weight.

And now, yet another study reports an increased risk of heart attack and strokes amongst older, daily diet soda users.

The results published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported that daily consumption of diet soda by adults 69 + years old led to a 44% increase in heart attacks and strokes in this group.

These results did not necessarily prove that the diet sodas, alone, were responsible for this increased risk. It is possible that people who drink diet sodas may have other unhealthy habits that also contribute to their increased risk. (I don’t know if this is true because many people drink diet sodas in an attempt to keep their weight down, which at least implies they are somewhat conscious of trying to be healthy).

It was reported that those who drank diet soda daily, tended to be heavier, and were more likely to have hypertension and diabetes.

Between this new information and studies we reported on in the past  it’s hard to make any kind of case for consuming diet sodas. There are excellent naturally sweetened beverages out there which have no or very few calories and seemingly non- of the risks of diet sodas or the artificial sweeteners they use.

If you read our other articles, you know that I highly recommend the natural sweeteners erythritol and stevia. Though there are several brands using these natural sweeteners, one I found that has really great flavor and taste is “Sobe” Life Water. I tried their Mango-Melon and Green Apple-Pear flavors and they were terrific and had “zero” calories.


Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.





For many years you may have been reading about the importance of keeping your BMI (Body Mass Index) below 25.   Above 25 is considered over-weight and over 30 is considered obese.

But there have been many critics of using BMI to determine health and mortality (likelihood of dying) risks.  I have been one of those who questioned the true value of BMI.   BMI is a ratio comparing your weight to your height.

If one were to think about it, this is a rather general statistic and makes NO allowance for the fact that some people are just broader than others.  Some people are just more naturally muscular than others. So it is not surprising that researchers have recently confirmed that at least for patients with clogged arteries (and it’s my guess , for everyone else too) that the location of your body fat presents a much higher risk of premature death,  than an elevated BMI.

Research just recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that for people with clogged arteries, (most of us have no idea if our arteries are clogged or not, until it’s too late) that abdominal fat (belly fat) is a far superior indicator of risk of death than BMI.

The study collected data from 15,000 patients and determined that where the fat is located is more important than carrying a little extra fat throughout the body.

To put it in terms of what your figure might look like, it is better to be pear-shaped (carrying the extra weight in the hips and thighs) than it is to be apple-shaped (carrying the weight around your middle).

The double whammy would be to be apple shaped (excess belly-fat) and also have a high BMI.

So how do you know when you might be at risk, if you can’t use BMI as a measuring device?  The answer is that you can use two other measurements that are thought to be better predictors of mortality.

1-     Waist Circumference – Just take out a tape measure, make sure you measure at the belly button level and if you are a woman with a waist over 35 inches or a man with a waist over 40 inches, you are at increased risk.

2-     Waist to Hip Ratio – This time measure both your waist and your hips (measure the hips around the hip bone which protrudes from the side of the very top of your leg).  Then divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.  For women the number should be .80 or less (that is, point eighty, less than one) and for men it should be .95 or less.

This in very important to keep in mind when considering your over all health regimen.


Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N, C.N.S