It’s Your Health: Trimming down after holidays

March was a tough month for our waistlines. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Spring Break noshing and Easter feasting were the primary culprits (did you eat your way through the Ides of March too?)

The holidays are over so let’s get serious about losing that girth we accumulated in 31 days.

We need not crash diet nor eliminate all our favorite culinary delights. Simple modifications plus healthier food choices will trim the tummy while leaving us satisfied.

If you’re still on that sugar high and think ice cream is the base of the food pyramid, try Skinny Cow low fat ice cream sandwiches instead of Ben and Jerry’s. One 4 oz. treat is 140 calories and 97 percent fat free. The mint is especially yummy and I don’t even like ice cream. Anyway, you’ve gotta love the name and packaging. There’s a lounging svelte cow with a tape measurer around its waist on the container (six sandwiches included — don’t eat them all on the way home).

Fruit should always be included in our daily intake. However, sometimes it’s difficult to find the freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious. You can’t beat a frozen fruit medley for convenience and health. A berry trio of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries packs fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants into a 70-calorie cup. Its versatility is also reason to store a few bags in the freezer. Toss some over hot or cold cereal, mix with yogurt, stir into muffins, or bake with whole oats, walnuts or almonds, and top with a dollop of honey.

Another benefit from eating oranges and kiwis. A 10-year Australian study tracked 300 adults whose vitamin C consumption was mostly from fruit. At the conclusion, researchers discovered the group had less wear and tear on their knees. Vitamin C decreases risk of bone-marrow damage and antioxidants from fruit reduce the vulnerability of cartilage defects. Both are contributors to osteoarthritis of the knee.

It’s lunchtime. Naturally, omit white bread for a fiber and B vitamin rich whole-grain variety. If you usually have a turkey, lettuce, with light mayo between two slices of multi-grain, try a wrap instead. However, you must scrutinize the package carefully. Total fat and calories unfairly fluctuate. That enticing garden spinach one looks as if it might be the perfect choice, but if you read the ingredients, you notice it contains 2 percent or less of ‘seasoning’ — spinach powder and others. No iron rich spinach leaves in this wrap! Note that it says artificial color too. That would be the appealing, deceptive green “it’s got to be healthy” hue. Size: 70g (big!), calories: 210, fat: 5g., protein: 6g.

Another company touts its whole-wheat wrap as “a unique tasteful alternative to ho-hum breads… a truly nutritious healthy alternative too.” Not as much questionable stuff in there but still, the 57g. wrap is 160 calories with 3g. of fat and 6g. protein. The best one that I’ve found is the multi-grain ‘flat out’ wrap. Smaller, yes, at 53g. but only 100 calories, 2.5g. of fat, and 9g. of protein.

When filling your wrap, substitute lettuce for vitamin A-and K-rich spinach. Try pesto instead of mayo. Pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, and olive oil so you’re getting a healthy dose of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A recent study indicated that when eaten with veggies, these fats assist the absorption of beta-carotene (in spinach) and other nutrients. Complete your wrap with lean turkey or chicken and a tomato.

Enjoy!

More tips next week. Don’t forget to exercise too.

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Kay Sager is a certified fitness and aquatic specialist living at Port of the Islands. She is a personal trainer using land and water fitness and teaches swimming. She also has written articles for Physician and Sports Medicine among other publications. Kay can be reached by e-mail: kswimfit@aol.com.

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