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Holidays a Hard Time for Ohioans to Eat Heart-Healthy

December 22, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Cold weather, the holidays and plenty of food on hand can prompt some bad eating habits for the next couple of weeks. And health experts say that, with the state's increasing obesity rate, it's especially important for Ohioans to approach the holidays with a focus on moderation.

Registered dietitian Nikki Ver Steeg says there are ways to enjoy holiday treats, without gaining excess pounds. For example, she suggests choosing just one special food to splurge on.

"If there is something that you absolutely love about that holiday - that Grandma makes, or Mom makes, or maybe even Dad, or that somebody used to make - then go ahead and have that thing, because that has too much of a sentimental value to pass up. But the rest of the stuff, then, be a little careful with."

Ver Steeg says there are also ways to prepare your own holiday goodies with fewer calories. One tip is to incorporate natural applesauce as a basic ingredient in baking. Use it to replace one-half of the cooking oil in recipes that call for oil, which cuts the fat in the recipe and adds some nutrition as well.

Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano says a good way to stay healthy during holiday celebrations is to focus on why you are there, to spend time with family and friends.

"You can be placing a little bit of an extra effort on that aspect and placing the effort on socializing, as opposed to the aspect of food, and drinking, and overindulgence."

Zumpano says getting daily exercise is the best way to get rid of excess calories. She adds that it can be invigorating in the cold weather, and is also a great way to spend time with family members.

In a survey by states, Ohio was recently ranked tenth in the nation for obesity by the Trust for America's Health.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH