Holiday Food Time and Delicious Low-Carb Substitutions

So many people I know tell me that they are going to eat what they want for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and pretty much for the entire month of December because (their excuse to go food nuts) IT IS THE HOLIDAYS!  When did the holidays become about pigging out and not celebrating the Pilgrims and Native Americans, the birth of Baby Jesus, the oil staying lit and the fact that there are Christmas lights up all month and we have to listen to Holiday music for over a month?  Why are we doing this?  I still think it is because people associate it with “comfort” of family and “comfort” food.  It reminds them of home, but it is also a great excuse to be bad without having to say you are eating fattening food because you just feel like it.

So, a lot of people put on weight starting with Halloween and starting January 1–they join health clubs and weight loss centers.  It reminds me of bears that eat up before the hibernation, except that we are not bears.  Why do this to yourself every year?  It makes no sense.  It is hard on the body and the wallet.

So, the holidays are here.  Here are some tips to not overeat fattening foods and still have holiday feasts.  You can even use substitutes to create many traditional meals.  You can even start NEW TRADITIONS with new meals.  I have turkey, vegetables, salad and I make them as interesting as possible.

Many people seem to think that “Thanksgiving is all about the carbs.” But it really doesn’t have to be that way. You can decide to have a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal with any carb level you want. I have found some really good tips online.  These Thanksgiving tips work well for any large holiday meal.


1) Choose traditionals that are lower in carbs.

Turkey is obviously the low-carb star of the meal. There might be vegetables, which are family favorites,  that don’t have a lot of starch or added sugars. Think back through holidays past and resurrect the least carby side dishes.  Stay away from yams with cream, mashed potatoes, etc.

2) Consider scaling back some of the traditional side dishes.

Did you know that plain roasted yams with salt, pepper and butter are really delicious even without a pile of marshmallows on top? Instead of a rich vegetable casserole, how about a simpler vegetable side dish, such as green beans with almonds? Have a simple sautéed mushroom and peppers dish, get some good low-fat cheeses and cut cucumbers, or a salad with a  cranberry vinaigrette dressing.

3) Serve low-carb, high-flavor nibbles first.

If you decide to eat more carbohydrates than usual, consider holding off until you get to the table. Use vegetables with dip, cucumber rounds instead of crackers for spreads, and peanuts or other nuts, instead of chips.

4.  For meals and desserts that are low-carb, go to this site for recipes for low carb meals, ideas and desserts–including low-carb pumpkin pie and other pies.  There are low-carb alternatives to everything so you don’t have to be that bad!




Does Gluten-Free Mean You Will Lose Weight?

Celiac sufferers and those with non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (and I believe I am gluten sensitive) need to avoid the wheat protein for their health.

You have to look at labels and pick wisely, because many gluten-free items still have a lot of carbs.  So, if that blueberry muffin is now only 25g of carbs vs. 50g of the regular muffin, you are still eating 25g of carbs!  If there is little to no protein or fiber to balance that out, you are still eating a dessert!  If you want to only eat 50 to 100g of carbs a day to lose weight and you have that 25g of carb muffin–well, you do the math on what you have left for the rest of the day.

I found a place that serves gluten-free pizza crust for a one-sized pizza.  I called the company and found out the lowest carb item on the menu was this particular pizza that was gluten-free and it was 42g of carbs for the whole pizza.  Well, I split that pizza with my husband and had salad with it instead of eating the whole pizza.  I ended up with 25g of carbs for this meal and balanced it out the rest of the day with low-carb foods like eggs, meat, veggies and low-fat cheeses.  Therefore, I did not gain and I actually lost weight.

If you already have a healthy diet, gluten-free diets will not aid weight loss. For those who subsist mostly on pasta, pizza and other gluten-filled foods, a change to gluten-free lean proteins and veggies will obviously lead to weight loss — though it won’t be the lack of gluten that’s shedding the pounds. 
So, please be aware that gluten-free does not mean carb-free!