I received a letter recently addressed in a beautiful, strong and steady handwriting. You can imagine my excitement when I noticed the return address, The North Pole.
Dear Timothy, it began. I’m writing to ask your advice on a personal matter. It would seem that my middle has grown bountiful in recent years. Might you recommend a change of course to lessen the snug of my coat?
My Dear Santa, it is always a delight to hear from you. Your work in our world does so much good. The joy created by your example of charity and gift giving is an inspiration to all.
To lessen the snug, keep up your activity and make fewer your choices of sweets and other rich fare. The concentrated sweets in cookies, cakes and pastries that are so popular during this festive season can add a bright cheer it is true. But they also add extra calories that like to stick to the middle. May I suggest a few simple tactics to enjoy the holidays without a snug coat?
Replace some of those sweets with fresh fruit. This simple choice will not only save calories but it will add fiber, nutrients and a subtle sweet that reminds us of springtime during these winter months. When we train our palates away from the concentrated sweets of sugar and learn to enjoy the subtle fresh sweet of fruits, we reduce long term cravings for sweets.
The joy of this season brings us all together for more frequent parties where it is customary to enjoy rich fare such as meats, sauces and sweets. Many of us might find more bountiful middles by January if we do not change the course.
You might suggest that Mrs. Claus bring a fruit dessert to those elf work parties this season. When you do choose a sweet, make the serving small. Like all treats, desserts are more special if they are eaten in small servings. Grilling and steaming are cooking methods that do not add fat and extra calories yet produce delicious results. How about grilled salmon with steamed asparagus and fresh lemon on the side? I’m thinking in shades of red and green!
During those hectic days of preparation for the big event, remember not to skip meals. Have some low calorie healthy snacks throughout the day. This will reduce the likelihood of overeating at supper. And when you are packing the sleigh, include some fresh food choices like red and green pepper slices, carrot and celery sticks to balance the sugary snacks that you might encounter during your sojourn.
By the way, there is a special little girl who will be celebrating her first Christmas this year. Please add my new little granddaughter Amelia to your list. She is as sweet as a little angel without the calories.
In my reply, I included a few other notes, mostly Christmas list items and a sentimental close. And it occurs to me that we could help our Dear Grand Elf in our own little way this year. Perhaps some fresh fruit rather than the traditional cookies might be a welcome snack. And let’s not forget the most important part of the holidays. It’s really about the special people in our lives and not the food. I signed my letter, “I love you, Santa.”
Tim Scallon is a registered dietitian nutritionist with St. Luke’s Health. In cooperation with Sodexo Food Service, The Polk Education Center and the City of Lufkin, Tim Scallon hosts the nationally viewed TV series Memorial Cooking Innovations. The popular cooking show celebrates the joy of fresh food and healthy eating and can be seen on cable in 62 cities and online at http://www.chistlukeshealthmemorial.org. On the website find healthy recipes, past cooking shows and sound nutrition information.