Local News

Healthier Holiday Eating Step Toward Cutting Health Risks

Rama Koya
news-journal.com (Longview, TX)

With eggnog, sugar cookies and cheese balls among the most popular dishes served at holiday parties, it’s no wonder the season causes even the biggest health nuts and strictest dieters to stray from their nutritious paths.

A healthy lifestyle is an important weapon in the fight against disease.

According to a recent report by the World Cancer Research Fund, healthier lifestyles and better diets could prevent up to 2.8 million cases of cancer each year. The number of cancers around the world has increased by 20 percent in less than a decade to around 12 million new cases a year.

The World Cancer Research Fund named cancer, along with other chronic diseases such as heart and lung disease and diabetes, among the world’s biggest health challenges.

“Adopting a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced diet full of nutrients is important for overall well-being and critical to preventing and fighting cancer,” said Dr. Lalan Wilfong, medical oncologist at Texas Oncology. “This season, give the gift of health to yourself and others by making better choices and simple adjustments to your regular holiday routine that can help reduce the risk of disease later in life.”

Small changes,big pay-offs

The American Cancer Society estimates nearly a third of cancer deaths could be prevented by improving nutrition, limiting alcohol intake, participating in more physical activity and quitting smoking.

When planning holiday gatherings and creating new traditions, here are tips to help you stay on track while still spreading holiday cheer:

Start the day with a hearty breakfast. Fill-up on fiber-rich foods, such as oatmeal, and lean protein, such as turkey sausage, to stay full longer and get your metabolism going.

Sprinkle your table with healthier dishes. Challenge yourself to make holiday menus more nutritious by adding fresh vegetables and fruits and other dishes that are high in dietary fiber, such as whole grains and beans. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends filling at least two-thirds of your plate with these types of foods.

Cook with this, not that

Limit foods that are high in fat and added sugars and substitute ingredients in these popular dishes with more nutritious ones:

Shortbread: Reduce the sugar by half and intensify the sweetness by adding vanilla.

Brownies: Substitute butter with baby prunes to cut more than half the fat and calories.

Salad: Replace iceberg lettuce with arugula, spinach or kale to add more nutrients.

Stuffing: Instead of dry bread crumbs, use rolled oats for added fiber.

Breakfast casserole: Use lean turkey or Italian prosciutto instead of bacon to cut calories and fat.

Leave Santa a nutritious midnight snack. Promote healthy eating to children early by encouraging them to leave Santa apple slices and apple cider beside the fireplace.

Sneak in a workout. Make a goal to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. If you’re unable to break away for a jog or the gym, play with your kids, go on a family holiday hike or pick the farthest parking spot to get moving and maintain a healthy weight.

Create “active” family traditions. Create healthy, fun family traditions that include physical activity, such as cutting down your own tree, building a snowman or playing a friendly game of flag football.

Give delicious, healthy treats as gifts. Make healthier items to give to neighbors, coworkers and friends instead of candy and high-fat baked goods.

— Dr. Rama Koya is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Longview, 1300 N. Fourth St. For information visit www.TexasOncology.com or call 1 (888) 864-4226.


Texas Oncology Services