Buffalo News Refresh – December 2016

Enjoy the WNY holidays while you set a healthy New Year path

By: Holly R. Layer

Instead of writing about the ills of overindulging this holiday season, let’s just be real and enjoy the holidays—Christmas comes but once a year. With all the hustle and bustle (a.k.a. stress) of the holiday season, it’s easy to seek relief in a vat of eggnog or a dozen Christmas cookies. Don’t do it! You’ll regret it, I promise.

What I will offer, however, is some nutritionally sound advice about navigating the holiday spread and some motivation to start planning those New Year’s Resolutions now, so you’re ready to hit the ground running (literally or figuratively) on January 1st.

The truth is, the holidays are not an ideal time to try to lose weight or stick to a super restrictive dieting plan. Even as a dietitian, I advocate for enjoying the deliciousness of the season, not self-deprivation. Your goal from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day should be weight maintenance, not weight loss. One way to do that: plan and prepare light, healthy meals for the majority of the week ahead of time so you can enjoy a cookie or glass of wine at the Christmas party guilt-free. Strike a balance somewhere between a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ for sugar and ‘eating all the things’ by only splurging on what’s truly worth it, like those holly wreath cookies or peppermint bark (or are those just my weaknesses?).

Now that’s I’ve given you permission to savor a cookie or two (max!), I challenge everyone to start thinking about ways to improve their health in the New Year. Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” That phrase couldn’t be truer. Achieving optimal health is more than just relying on good genes or hoping that ‘one day’ things will change. Being healthy takes work, both in terms of what you eat and how you move.

Achieve a Healthy Weight:

With more than 68% of Americans in the overweight (BMI > 25) or obese category (BMI > 30), many of us could stand to lose a few pounds. Studies show that losing just 5-10% of your current weight yields numerous health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and your risk for various chronic diseases, like heart disease or diabetes. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, be sure to take steps to maintain your weight; our metabolisms slow down as we get older, which means we need take in fewer calories. I like the BMI calculator at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm.

Eat a Healthy Diet:

If you’re still eating Kraft Singles or think Fruit-on-the-Bottom yogurt is a health food, it’s time for a diet clean-up. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store to avoid packaged and processed foods, and instead fill your cart with as much produce as you’ll eat in a week, sources of protein (meat, fish, eggs) and healthy fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil). Limit your grain intake to whole grains (100% whole wheat bread, rice, oatmeal, air-popped popcorn) and choose dairy options that aren’t full of sugar (plain yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese sticks, low-fat milk). Consider meeting with a Registered Dietitian to figure out your individual calorie needs and come up with a meal plan that works for you. Go to the Western New York Dietetic Association’s website (www.eatrightwnyda.org) or email me!

Make Exercise a Priority:

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends 150 minutes (2 hrs, 30 mins) fo moderate activity per week for adults. Those who have been overweight and are maintaining their weight may need closer to 60 minutes per day to prevent weight gain. Whether you’re already a gym rat or currently a couch potato, consider challenging yourself in a new way this year; perhaps upping your speed or distance in a road race or simply beginning to walk on a treadmill. Be sure to include strength training with your cardio activity; increasing your muscle mass increases your metabolism. Group fitness classes are fun ways to exercise while getting to know others, making friends and having an overall better experience. Take steps NOW to set yourself up for success, such as researching upcoming local races or joining a gym. Many gyms offer special deals In January; the YMCA Buffalo Niagara is waving the join fee on Jan 1 (gyms are closed, join online and receive a free t-shirt) and in facilities on Jan 2; receive half-off the join fee Jan 3-31.

Holly R. Layer is a registered dietitian and a freelance writer. She works as a clinical dietitian at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda and also provides nutritional counseling at Weigel Health Center at SUNY Buffalo State, as well as teaching fitness classes at the Southtowns Family Branch YMCA. She lives in East Aurora with her husband, Andrew, a village native. She blogs at thehealthypineapple.com and her work appears monthly in the online version of Refresh. Send her nutrition-related questions at refresh@buffnews.com  


it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas 

I got Christmas bedding, ya’ll.

(The ‘you-all’ contraction was for emphasis; I’m not a Southerner–despite Andrew’s insistence to the contrary–nor do I say it that often in real life.  It just felt right.)

I have wanted ‘Christmas’ bedding for like, THREE YEARS.  Seriously.  (Currently having second thoughts about admitting that.)

Regardless, truth be told, I have tried for THREE YEARS to snag up some Christmas-themed bedding after said holiday on sale.  Key words: ON SALE.  Well, time after time, I’ve waiting too long and everything–and I mean EVERYTHING–was sold out.

Well, I vowed that THIS YEAR would be different.

And folks, it was, but just barely.

This year, sometime in early November–with coupon in hand and Andrew’s blessing–I put all these items in my online shopping cart…only to gag over the cost and have Andrew’s blessing ripped from my fingers.  No dice.

Weeks pass.  I still want said bedding, but drop the issue thinking–yet again–that perhaps I’ll find something at TJMaxx (nothing) or Marshall’s (nothing) or on sale (let’s not get our hopes up).

And then, just after Thanksgiving ,(after I’m sure I made some comment about said bedding), Andrew said to just go ahead and get it.  Perhaps he was feeling generous.  Perhaps it was because we had another coupon.  Perhaps… who cares?!  I, yet again, began the process of ordering our bedding online, only to find that IT WAS SOLD OUT.


I could have screamed.  (In fact, I’m pretty sure I did.)  Yet again, I thought I’d have to wait until next year.

The rest of the story isn’t nearly as dramatic; a friend gave me the idea to call a local store and see if they had any comforters in stock they could ship me; in fact they did; bonus for using a coupon on half of the bedding items on a phone order and another coupon for the remaining pieces online and bigger bonus for finding a cheaper red blanket at TJMaxx.

The bedding, of course, was the impetus to paint the room green; I’d been planning to paint our room green for years now (we’ve had a blue bedroom for 10 years in both houses and green would match both our existing bedding–from our wedding!–and the new Christmas bedding) and figured this would be the time to do it for maximum impact.

Whew.  All those words for some new blankets and shams and paint.

winner winner chicken dinner!

Remember when I entered that recipe contest a couple weeks ago and asked for you to vote for me??

Well, I won!  I didn’t win the whole thing, but I did come in second place in the judges category, and received a sweet little gift box in the mail!


How neat is that?!

I’m excited to make my own recipe again, and there are a couple other recipes that sounded interesting, like Ground Beef and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash and the Spicy Beef Burrito Bowl.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me on the http://www.nutritioulicious.com/ website!  I enjoyed tweaking the recipe and hope to do more of this in the future.  Also, thank you to the New York Beef Council for facilitating and judging the contest.  I’m looking forward to going on a farm tour this coming summer (I was supposed to this past summer but had to have minor surgery and wasn’t able to walk around that day).

Perhaps my steak and eggs will be on the menu next week!

Disclaimer: By posting this recipe I was entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and New York Beef Council, and was eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.