Season's Eating

By staff December 11, 2006



Yes, you can stay healthy during the holiday pig-out.

By Judi Gallagher


Amusing as I find their annual requests, several magazines and newspapers call me each year in search of healthy eating tips around the holidays. Hello—I have bumper stickers that read “Pro Butter” and “Choose Life with Cream,” so the subject is almost absurd for me to be even considering. Since I work out every Friday at 20 Minutes to Fitness (, I thought it best to seek the advice of a true professional there—owner Virginia Phillips.


Phillips, quite honestly, is a big reason why, as a food critic and professional chef, I am not 400 pounds. Let’s not go crazy here—I am not a gym rat and prefer never to wear sweat pants. Twenty minutes once a week in a business suit with no sweat is my kind of workout (especially if it precedes a medium rare cheeseburger and fries).


While I have noticed great results from my weight training in the past year, I must confess that most of the entire 20 minutes lifting the weights with my trainer Dale are spent analyzing the amount of mozzarella cheese on a portion of baked ziti at Filippo’s Pizzeria (6392 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, 941-360-8065) or whether the Cheesecake Factory really does make the best pumpkin cheesecake. (Sam’s sells this tasty dessert during the holidays for half the price of a cheesecake at the restaurant locations.)


But whenever Virginia walks by, we quickly change the subject, instead discussing my increase in muscle tone or the benefits of long walks and unsweetened grapefruit juice.


But honestly, like everyone else, I do need ways to help avoid holiday overeating. This year armed with Virginia’s list, I have eaten a salad before each holiday party; and yes, it does work. While I may take a taste of the warm apple strudel, I do find it easier to avoid larger portions when I have already had a healthy snack.


Virginia’s “How to Avoid The Post-Holiday Over-Eating Blahs”

1.    Eat a small, healthy snack before you head to the party

2.    Take a small plate and small helpings

3.    Start with a serving of those healthy veggies

4.    Since it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is stuffed, wait before you go back for seconds.


And yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus: This year I hope that he brings me triple-cream brie!


Winning Recipe: Michele Doss won a $100 gift certificate to Bacco's for her winning recipe of scallops with apple brandy sauce in the November apple recipe contest.


Do you have a system or approach that helps you get through the holidays without gaining weight? If so, please post your advice below. And remember, time is running out to enter my side dishin’ contest. Post your favorite side dish recipe on this blog and you could win a $100 gift certificate to dinner at Bacco’s. Be sure to include your e-mail on the post. Or if you prefer not to post your e-mail address, you can e-mail me at [email protected].

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