Stay Healthy, Satisfy Cravings

Sarah Lundgren, The Brunswick News, Ga.

Posted Jan 6, 2012

These past couple of weekends have probably been full of sugary treats, too much food and not enough exercise.

With an entire year ahead to atone for it, MiMi McGee, a chef certified in plant-based nutrition, has some suggestions for replacing unhealthy snacks with ones better suited to a healthy lifestyle.

"It is always important to watch what we eat, especially around the holidays, because we can slide so easily into those extra unwanted pounds so quickly, with all of those tempting treats around," she said.

By starting a habit of eating fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods, such as leafy greens, beans and legumes, and whole grains, a person will have fewer food cravings all year, she said.

Starting with all those cookies Santa left behind, how can you satisfy your sugar cravings without going overboard?

"Fresh whole fruit is a great replacement snack to satisfy your sweet tooth," she said.

Her favorite suggestion is dates, but she warns against eating too many dried fruits, because they contain concentrated sugars. Moderation is a key in a healthy lifestyle.

Sugar isn't the only culprit to leave behind at the holiday table. Salt-laden foods can really take a toll on waistlines and health.

"Consuming too much salt (more than 2 grams per day) can lead to diseases such as hypertension and some cancers. But using modest amounts of salt in cooking or for flavoring foods does not appear to increase risk," McGee said.

For a simple alternative, buy the no-salt or low-salt versions of favorite snacks, if they are available. McGee, though, recommends that the best thing to do is to throw away salty snacks altogether.

"Substitute veggie sticks, such as carrots and celery, instead of chips with dips or spreads. Say 'no' to all roasted, salted nuts and eat only one ounce, basically a small handful, of the raw and unsalted variety," she said.

To flavor food without using salt, try using any of the no-salt seasoning blends available, such as Mrs. Dash, in recipes. Avoid adding salt when cooking, McGee says, because letting people add it themselves at the table adding usually means they will add less.

"It takes a certain amount of time to wean yourself from the salt shaker. But if you give yourself enough time without over-salting food, your taste buds will adjust and you will begin to taste the food instead of the salt," she said.

Adding an exercise routine to New Year's resolutions, along with McGee's suggestions, can also help beat the holiday bulge.

©2012 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)

Visit The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.) at www.thebrunswicknews.com

 
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