'Weighting' it out on Turkey Day

An once of prevention can keep off the pounds during the holidays

Odds are you're going to weigh more on Jan. 2 than you did on Thanksgiving Day.

But local residents and health experts say that with a little willpower and creative, advanced thinking leading up to the Turkey Day feast, waistline bulge battles don't have to be lost.

The nap and the fat

Take those post-gorge hours and days to get reacquainted with the state's recreational opportunities, several locals said. And avoid that after-dinner nap, which allows junky fats to settle into your system.

"We're very lucky to be living in Colorado, where it's easy to get out and exercise," said Elisa Shackelton, family and consumer sciences agent with the local Colorado State University cooperative extension office.

Statistics suggest folks do take that initiative. Colorado ranks as the leanest state, remaining the last state of the union with less than 20 percent obesity, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control, cited by Shackelton.

If not outdoors, owners of two Craig fitness clubs said holiday feasting always makes for better business. College students who return home also account for the increased activity at the clubs.

"People may get out of their normal routine a bit, but they do manage to get in here," said Ed Stehlin, owner of Trapper Health Club for the past 12 years.

During the average halftime of a professional football game, a lot can be accomplished health wise, added Tammie Hanel, who operates Craig's Curves for Women.

"Make time for it," Hanel said. "It only takes a half-hour a day."

But the battle's fought before food goes on the table, Shackelton said.

Franken-turkeys

and turkey truths

Make the family's dinner truly family driven, she suggested.

"Do something different, ask the children if they'd like to eat something different this year, or maybe serve a traditional turkey with some new side dishes," Shackelton said.

Special orders can be taken at Craig's Naturally Fine Herbs and Nutrition for naturally grown turkeys.

"These turkeys don't do drugs," said Daniel Wright, a certified health specialist who works at the Yampa Avenue shop.

Unlike the steroid-enhanced birds found on shelves at many grocery chains, these turkeys are range-fed.

"You're not getting all those extra hormones, which are causing all these problems now with our kids," said Mary Funkhouser, the shop's owner.

If, for you, a turkey's a turkey anyway it's sliced, you might still want to be mindful about what's going in your mouth.

"A turkey breast without the skin has about .7 grams of fat per serving," said Shackelton, adding that the same portion with skin holds about 12.3 grams of fat.

And while perhaps tastier, darker meat is harder on the waistline, loaded with some 7 grams of fat per serving. Skinless white slices have roughly .7 grams of fat per serving.

Ham, meanwhile, packs about 9 grams of fat for every 3 1/2-ounce serving, Shackelton noted.

"Traditional holiday servings of meat consumed cover about the size of your wrist, up to the base of your fingers," she said.

Something different

With roughly 2,500 calories packed into a typical Thanksgiving feast, why not try healthier twists

on old dishes, or new things altogether?

Start with the dressing.

"Cook from scratch, using whole grains, instead of buying it boxed from the store," Funkhouser said.

"Do your pumpkin pies, but sweeten them with perhaps honey, as opposed to white sugar."

Wright, meanwhile, suggests taking a low- or no-fat yogurt, mixed together with pumpkin pie spice, or perhaps canned pumpkin itself. Add maple syrup to that.

"You can serve it as a pudding," Wright said. "And there's no garbage in it at all."

Wright also suggests different ingredients for a healthier version of green casserole, likely to be served up on many tables Nov. 28

Do everything the same, but, instead of butter and sour cream, prepare using chicken or vegetable broth, he said.

For an interesting fruit salad, consider mixing fresh cranberries and frozen-concentrate orange juice. Add fresh pineapple.

"It's cranberry relish without sugar," Wright said.

Regardless of what's eaten, don't starve yourself all Thanksgiving Day leading up to the main course, several said.

First off, serve a salad with olive oil or maybe balsamic vinegar.

"It helps the digestive tract," Wright said. "People will eat a lot less and feel a lot better. It takes about 20 minutes for the body to register that it's full."

Watch out for ...

Entertaining gathered family or large numbers of guests could lead to some common, potentially dangerous oversights.

"One of the biggest sins with holiday buffets is that people will serve plates of cheeses, cold cuts, etc. and they'll sit there for three or fours hours sometimes before they're eaten," said Shackelton.

After sitting two hours at room temperature, those cheese slices laced with a few million bacteria can come back to haunt you.

"There's a greater risk of food poisoning," said Shackelton, who suggests sticking the various items, probably best served in smaller portions, back in the refrigerator after one hour.

Cross-contamination of meats chopped up on unwashed cutting boards present potentially greater risks: E-coli and salmonella.

"Cutting boards and knives should be run through the dishwasher with soap, or scrubbed using hot water, between uses," Shackelton said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 to at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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