Healthy Eggnog Alternatives, Gluten-Free Fare

Healthy egg nog alternatives at Rush University Medical Center in ChicagoHere are some more food tips from Jennifer Ventrelle, a clinical nutritionist at Rush University Medical Center who took part in our Holiday Health Q&A on Facebook.

What are some good alternatives to delicious but fattening eggnog?

You can purchase low-fat versions of eggnog or make your own with skim milk instead of whole milk or Egg Beaters instead of real eggs, and you can even sweeten it with a calorie-free sweetener. I’d recommend Truvia or PureVia if you are trying to stay away from sugar substitutes. These are more natural alternatives made from the stevia plant.

Some more fun eggnog tips … A 16-ounce McDonald’s eggnog shake will run you 560 calories, 13g fat and 97 grams of carbohydrates. Also, any time you reduce fat or sugar from a recipe, you can add extra vanilla or cinnamon/nutmeg/etc.  to boost the flavor.

My nephew has gluten allegies. Any tips on gluten-free treats we could make for our holiday dinner so he won’t feel left out of the fun?

I actually just made gluten-free cookies last night for a friend of mine who has celiac disease. Betty Crocker actually has a lot of great gluten-free mixes. I made the chocolate chip cookies, and my friend raves about the Betty Crocker brownies. Also,  if you buy oats from a reliable source (I’d recommend Whole Foods), there is less risk for cross-contamination of the gluten. Oatmeal bars can be made with dried cranberries or raisins and chocolate chips. Gluten free can still taste good!

Fruit is also a great holiday treat. Make a fruit salad a bit more interesting by mixing it with low-fat vanilla yogurt, cinnamon, a touch of vanilla extract, and sprinkle with crushed walnuts or dried coconut. Delicious!

Rush Resources:

Handling Holiday Stress

Janine Gauthier, a psychologist at Rush, participated in our Rush On Call Q&A last week about staying healthy over the holidays. Here’s her advice about stress management:

There are some basic stress management techniques we can incorporate each and every day.

  1. Deep abdominal breathing — breathing in your belly
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation — relaxing one muscle group at a time until your entire body is relaxed
  3. Massage therapy — this promotes relaxation both physical and emotional
  4. Yoga — central to yoga is deep breathing
  5. Guided imagery — imaging yourself in a very relaxing place
  6. Physical exercise — engaging in cardiovascular exercise helps to promote endorphins in our body which helps us mangage stress
  7. Mindfulness meditation — where you allow yourself to do a body scan to find where you hold your stress and then allowing self to breathe and stay in the present moment.

The nice thing is that many of these strategies (breathing, mindfulness) you can engage in even when you are in the mall, in the car, standing in line or with family and friends. The goal is to make these a regular part of your life, which will become more natural the more often you engage in them, and you will find your are managing life more effectively.

Gauthier is the director of psychosocial oncology and director of clinical services for the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at Rush. She’s also an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University.

Top 8 Tips for Staying Healthy Over the Holidays

Jennifer Ventrelle is a nutrition consultant with the Rush Nutrition and Wellness Center and a certified personal trainer. Here are some of her healthy holiday tips:

Don’t try to lose weight over the holidays

  • The average American gains one to four pounds during the holidays
  • Trying to diet during the holidays is setting yourself up for failure
  • Create an achievable goal to maintain weight through the holiday season

Move more! Plan to exercise!

  • Decreased physical activity is the prime contributor to holiday weight gain
  • Almost guaranteed to eat more, so must burn more!
  • People who are more active keep weight stable during the holidays
  • Walk around mall before doing holiday shopping
  • Do sit-ups in between wrapping presents
  • Dance to holiday music
  • Go for a walk outside; the cold air often feels good when bundled up!

Mind your beverages

  • Avoid high-calorie drinks such as hot chocolate, flavored teas, and eggnog. (1 cup eggnog = 350 calories and 20 grams of fat!)
  • Consume alcohol in moderation
    • Drink a glass of water between each drink
    • Try a non-alcoholic mixer complete with garnish
    • Sip plain club soda, mineral water, or tomato juice with a twist of lemon or lime
    • Limit intake and choose lower-calorie alcoholic beverages
      • 12 oz regular beer = 150-200 calories
      • 12 oz light beer = 55-110 calories
      • 8 oz rum and Coke = 250 calories
      • 8 oz rum and Diet Coke = 100 calories
      • 6 oz wine = 130 calories
      • 6 oz sweet/dessert wine = 280 calories
      • Keep a non-caloric drink in hand to prevent reaching for more food

Never go to a party hungry

  • Eat a healthy snack such as yogurt and fruit, apple and peanut butter, or a small bowl of high-fiber cereal 30 minutes before party
  • Fill first plate with entirely vegetables and drink full glass of water; wait 5-10 minutes and then return only one more time for smaller portions of other foods

Continue reading