holiday eating season begins, here are a few tips on how to
slash your carb intake and bump up the fruits and vegetables
on your dish.
is but one day. So just enjoy it (in moderation, of course).
After all, itís what you eat the remaining 360-something
days of the year that really determines your pants size.
2013, the L.A. Timesí Mind & Body section has focused on
taking small, simple steps to improve your health and fitness.
And weíre doing more of the same as the holiday eating
season gets underway. So how about we savor the handful of
truly special meals that revolve around the gathering of
family and friends ó and keep a close eye on our plates the
rest of the time?
the easiest ways to do that?
the junky carbs.
are not demonizing carbohydrates. But the fact is weíre
Americans. Ergo, we eat too much of the sugary, starchy stuff.
(The Institute of Medicine recommends 130 grams of
carbohydrates a day. But many Americans eat at least twice
that amount.) And scaling back your excess carb intake is a
simple way to also scale back calories.
are 47 super easy ways to trim the carbs in your diet by 50
percent by focusing on processed carbohydrates and food, empty
calories and portion sizes. Best of all? We suspect youíll
barely miss a thing. If you have tips for keeping a lid on the
carbs in your diet, let us know on Twitter and Instagram using
the hashtag #LATFit.
yourself a carb allowance when eating out: Choose one carb per
meal. Are you going to splurge on one to two glasses of wine?
A dinner roll? Or a dessert you can split with the table? Make
the rest of your meal about veggies and lean proteins.
humbug to coffeehouses and those irresistible holiday
concoctions! Go for the small size and skip the whipped cream.
Or get the fully loaded version and take a few sips and then
toss the rest. Kinda wasteful, but see No. 28.
guilt-free party drink this holiday season? Wine spritzer.
need to abandon Friday night pizza. How about use half an
English muffin as your base? Pile on the toppings.
better: Use the inside of a roasted portobello mushroom cap
for your Friday night pizza crust. Pile on the toppings.
Another veggie-rific alternative: Broil inch-thick slices of
eggplant, and then use that as the base for your Friday night
pizza. Pile on the toppings.
need to abandon Saturday night burgers. How about use two
roasted portobello mushroom caps as the "buns" for
your cheeseburger. Pile on the toppings.
eat your cheeseburger served atop a salad, no bun necessary.
order your burger "protein style" (wrapped in
your Sunday begin with pancakes? No need to miss out, but just
have one instead of a stack. Pour on the syrup, slather on the
butter, but just eat one.
There is no law that says Thai and Indian curries must be
served over rice. Try ladling your curry over chopped and
roasted broccoli or cauliflower.
Speaking of cauliflower: The rage in the Paleo community is
"cauliflower rice" as a nutrient- and fiber-rich way
to stick to your diet and still enjoy a Thai panang or a
chicken tikka masala.
spaghetti and meatballs and lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano
cheese? Uh, who doesnít? Try the meatballs on a cup of
roasted spaghetti squash.
you just have to have the real thing, watch the portions.
According to the U.S. governmentís food guidelines, a
serving of spaghetti is half a cup. I know. Tragic.
Personally, I think the sauce is the best part of any pasta
dinner. Ask nicely and your waiter might bring you a grilled
chicken breast covered in the pasta sauce of your choosing.
Order a green salad on the side and call that a treat meal for
the history books.
your macaroni and cheese with roasted veggies instead of
Dying for a baked potato with a steak? Make it a small red
potato. Go for a little butter and a dollop of sour cream. Youíll
get a few bites of carb goodness but still stay on track.
Salad for dinner? Ask your server to hold the croutons, the
fried tortilla strips and especially the deep-fried tortilla
the big bowl of strawberry ice cream for an occasional
after-dinner treat. Instead, reach for a 6-ounce serving of
plain Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of strawberry jam swirled
in. Tuck it in the freezer for about 15 minutes before diving
you are still dying for something cold and creamy, try a
single fruit pop made without added sugars. (Weíre not
labeling these ice cream alternatives as health foods, mind
you. They still have plenty of carbs, just not as much as that
big bowl of ice cream. Plus, thereís built-in portion
to get in the habit of enjoying fresh, seasonal fruit as your
dessert. Experiment with frozen grapes, persimmon slices
drizzled with fresh lime, just enough to keep you from running
for the ice cream.
Mexican restaurant can actually be a great option when
watching carbs. Enjoy a handful or two (not a basketful) of
chips and salsa. Then order the veggie-rich fajitas, hold the
tortillas, rice and beans.
Devour those huevos rancheros, but skip the tortilla at the
bottom of the heap. Itís just a soggy mess anyway.
you are hankering for a slice of holiday pie, try microwaving
a half cup of sweet potato and then mashing it with a bit of
butter, a pinch of pumpkin pie spice and a teaspoon of sugar.
Not as good as the real thing, of course, but better for your
you do find yourself facing down a slice of pumpkin pie, just
eat the interior and the golden brown edge of the crust. The
rest of that crust is probably a soggy mess too.
Reach for an apple instead of apple juice. (Itís just too
easy to overdo juice.)
if you insist on juice, make it 2 ounces of juice topped off
with sparkling water.
put it in your shopping cart. Donít bring it in your house.
Weíre talking junk food (chips, sugary sodas, etc.). If you
must, enjoy it at a friendís house when itís served, or go
for the portion-controlled bag of chips or can of soda when
ordering lunch. Just donít put it in your shopping cart, and
donít bring it into your house.
a rare carb-free indulgence, try making cheese crisps, known
as fricos, instead of crackers.
a large romaine leaf as the "bread" for your ham and
about a salad on a salad? If you like tuna salad, egg salad or
chicken salad for lunch, try serving it on a bed of greens
instead of between two slices of bread.
lasagna using zucchini strips that you lightly brown in a
non-stick skillet. Or eggplant planks! (After all, the best
part of lasagna is the cheese on top, right?)
your sandwich with one slice of bread, cut in half. Pile on
the same amount of lettuce, tomatoes and other goodies. Who
cares if it all hangs over the edge?
lunch with friends, opt for a simple green salad as your side
offering, and be the big spender who springs for a plate of
fries for the table. Eat your salad, enjoy just a handful of
fries and youíll have the best of both worlds.
you order something decadent at a restaurant, start out with a
simple green salad as your appetizer. (If you donít see it
on the menu, ask.) When your entree arrives, enjoy a few
bites, but donít eat the whole thing. If you fill up on
greens, thereís a good chance you wonít need to lick your
plate clean. Speaking of which ...
in your membership to the Clean Plate Club. Donít feel
compelled to eat it all, especially at a restaurant with
enormous serving sizes.
Thereís a reason why "crackers" start with the
word "crack." Theyíre irresistible! But when you
think about it, theyíre often tasteless and have no
nutritional value. And they are really just a way to transport
cheese to your mouth, right? Alternatives: Eat the cheese
solo, or atop thinly sliced coins of carrots or cucumbers, or
on crispy, crunchy bell pepper strips.
there anything more decadent for dessert than a cheese plate?
Nope. So when you are jonesing for something indulgent after
dinner, consider an ounce of a really sharp cheddar served
with half an apple sliced thin. (Save the other half of the
apple for the next dayís breakfast or lunch. Just trim off
any brown parts.)
Another option for indulging in moderation: Conspire with a
like-minded diner. Share a healthful entree-sized salad as
your starter, and then split a slightly more decadent entree.
you know what a serving of cooked rice is? Half a cup.
Seriously. Measure this out on your plate the next time you
make rice at home so youíll know how much to eat (or not
eat) when you are out.
may be sacrilege to say in a place like L.A., but unless those
tortillas are homemade, just eat the insides of the taco and
throw the tortillas away. Then you can (see No. 1) enjoy a
side of rice or refried beans or some chips guilt-free.
the best bread youíve ever eaten? Hold on to that memory.
And the next time a server puts down a basket of stale or
overly processed bread that was probably made a week ago and
has been kept in the back of a truck wrapped in plastic, you
can say, "No, thank you." (Make sure you turn the
bread away before they plunk it down on the table, so it doesnít
go to waste.)
Whole, fresh food is best. But protein powders can make a
great meal substitute in a pinch. When choosing protein
powders, scrutinize labels for lurking carbs or artificial
sweeteners. (One option: Find a protein powder sans any
flavorings or chemicals, and dress it up with your own fruit.
Just watch portion sizes.)
words: Light beer. Try it. You might like it. And if you are
the type who enjoys three or four beers while watching
football on a Sunday afternoon, it wonít kill you to enjoy
your favorite beer for the first quarter and then make the
switch to light.
Start a food journal but just track your carb intake. (I know,
I know, you hate food journals. Do it anyway.)
says your ham and cheese needs to be weighed down by two
slices of bread? Lay out your ham. Slather on some Sriracha
mayo. Top with a slice of cheese. And then roll up and secure
with a toothpick. Serve with a green salad for a protein-rich
saved the best for last: Itís Thanksgiving. And you canít
choose among the three homemade pies at the buffet. Take
slivers of all three and enjoy a few bites.