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A healthy reminder to eat (relatively) well

Meridian Park diabetes program coordinator offers tips for holiday meals

Right in the middle of the holiday season, most people have probably already had their fair share of carbohydrates and sweets.

Jane Schuster, the diabetes program coordinator at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, wants you to know that it’s OK, as long as you try to remember about moderation.Jane Schuster

“My question is always, ‘Where’s the rule book?’ There’s nobody keeping track, I don’t think. I’d be doomed if there was,” she said. “A lot of times, we blame our food choices on others, especially around the holidays. It’s really more about eating the foods that you love and leaving the foods that you like.”

Schuster said this time of year, people often give themselves a free pass to eat whatever, simply because it’s the holiday season. The struggle with that becomes losing the unnecessary weight gained in just a couple months. A great way to avoid that, she said, is to not give yourself a free pass, but to also not beat yourself up if you do have one too many cookies.

“One of the biggest things is to not worry so much about losing weight during holidays, but trying not to gain weight,” she said. “We all have an Aunt Bertha who makes rum balls. I know I can’t eat them for whatever reason, but when I walk in and they’re there, I eat nine of them, and I feel guilty. What you could do is know that they’re gonna be there, so you can have four and move on.”

What often happens, she said, is people tell themselves they won’t eat a certain item, but then when they do anyway, they over eat it because they already failed. Strict boundaries with food tend to result in backfires. So tell yourself you can have two cookies. Or that you can have mashed potatoes, but not a roll. Or that you can have small portions of all your favorite things. It’s not about forbidding food, it’s about making conscious decisions about it.

“Pick where you want your calories to come from,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with having your traditional foods, because a lot of them are culturally very important, dating back however long. But being aware of that and knowing that it’s OK to eat these things, but to be more responsible and more aware.”

Schuster also suggested spending a longer time at the dinner table. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full, but by that time, most have already dished up seconds. By waiting longer, you allow your body more time to register if it actually wants more food or not. Keeping the food away from the table can also help with this, as more thought is required to stand up and get a second serving than to simply reach for a spoon. The same way athletes visualize a race, Schuster also suggests envisioning what your plate will look like before serving it.

“Most everybody is having the same food they had last year, so it’s not a surprise. It helps to kind of think about the meal before you get there,” she said. “Visualize what the plate is gonna look like, and you can in your mind see you’re getting more green beans and less potatoes. Visualize what you’re planning on doing.”

But still, the most important thing to do is to not set boundaries that are impossible to keep. Doing so leads to people feeling guilty, and ultimately eating worse than they might have without any boundaries at all.

“It’s OK to enjoy yourself on the holiday. Try not to beat yourself up,” Schuster said. “And for those people who like to berate people into eating something? They should not be invited to the party.”

Healthy Honey Cookies

Low-fat cookies made with applesauce and honey, drizzled with vanilla frosting. (Makes 48 servings.)


½ cup honey

2 egg whites

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup white all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp frosting, vanilla (Snackwell's preferred)


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray cookie sheets with nonfat cooking spray and set aside.

2) In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat honey for 15 seconds. Stir in egg whites and applesauce with a spatula until well blended. Gradually stir in baking soda, flour and ginger.

3) Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, about 1 ½ inches apart.

4) Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories — 13.1

Total Carbs — 2.4g

Dietary Fiber — 0.1g

Sugars — 0.4g

Total Fat — 0.2g

Saturated Fat — 0.0g

Unsaturated Fat — 0.1g

Protein — 0.4g

Sodium — 29.3mg

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