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How to Tell if Holiday Eating Advice is Truly Healthy

What would you rather eat: dark turkey meat or white turkey meat?

Let’s say you love dark meat.

Now if it appears like this in a magazine:

The Chubby Choice: Dark Meat Turkey
Three ounces of dark meat (about the size of a deck of cards) contains 165 calories and unhealthy saturated fat.

12 thoughts on “How to Tell if Holiday Eating Advice is Truly Healthy

  • December 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I think Marsha’s tips are great and really true. People need to focus on making healthier choices, and enjoying everything, including treats, in moderation. That’s why I named my practice nutritioulicious™ – it’s all about enjoying nutritious and delicious food. Everything has a place in one’s diet – and I mean diet as daily intake, not a strict weight loss regimen.

  • December 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    The statement “Add in second and third helpings and you can end up looking like someone stuffed a pumpkin into the back of your skinny jeans” is a perfect example of what’s so damaging about those holiday eating articles. They use exaggeration and a snarky tone to make people feel bad about eating with enjoyment. Even worse, the advice these articles hand out is frequently unsound. Dry white meat turkey is more satiating and makes you feel fuller longer than juicy dark meat? Not for most people.

  • December 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I asked my nutritionist about portioning desserts, which for me is the essence of holiday food. Her advice blew me away: Eat what you think will make you satisfied, and not to the point where you’ll feel weird from all the sugar. She gave me a couple of guidelines, yes, but was also like, “You might be hungry in the middle of the day so you’d have three pieces of fudge. But after dinner you might just want something sweet to end the meal, and one piece will be enough.”

    She wasn’t recommending that I have three pieces of fudge, and certainly she wouldn’t endorse having three pieces of fudge every day. But to hear a nutritionist say that, yes, three pieces of fudge can be a part of normalized eating was pretty awesome.

    She also gave me a piece of advice that I hadn’t read anywhere: If you’re going to have a sugar-dense food (like fudge–can you tell fudge will be at my family Christmas?), have it in combination with a meal so that you don’t have a sugar crash. Imagine that! Not restricting my food choices so that I can have fudge!

    I see the magazines paying a lot of attention to not gaining weight during the holidays, and to reducing family stress. But nowhere in there do I see advice for steering conversation away from food and weight during the holidays, which, for people whose food issues stem from family (and whose don’t?) would certainly help with both!

  • December 18, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    @ Nutritioulicious, Moderation is definitely the key. Food is vilified in our society and that’s a shame.

    I wonder when all this really started. Did women’s magazines give such restrictive eating tips for the holidays in the 40s, 50s and 60s? Did people have the same kind of fear of food then as they do today?

    It’s great to hear that you have the same philosophy, that every food has a place in our diet. By the way, great name. 🙂

  • December 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    @ Eleanor, very well put! I hate that condescending tone that implies you’re a weak person who’s bound to gain weight (gasp!) if you choose something delicious. And the very use of “chubby choice” is insulting. I’ve come to expect this from Cosmo, honestly, but I know that many women, and worse young girls read it. The unhealthy messages they send is astounding.

  • December 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    @ Autumn, I could hug your nutritionist! 🙂 That’s awesome. I really like her tip on not getting a sugar rush. It’s wonderful to hear such reasonable advice.

    Tips on how to avoid food/weight talk would be great! I watched some of Jess Weiner’s tips on the Today Show and she talked about avoiding talking about calories and all that at the table (see video here,

    And it’s so true. You can’t go a few hours without someone mentioning that they’ve eaten too much, the huge amount of calories in such and such dessert and how they’ll have to walk to another state to work off the calories.

    Thanks everyone for your comments! Have a great weekend!

  • December 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Thank you for this post and especially the link to the Fat Nutritionist – fantastic. I have gained a lot of weight through depression and medication, and I was not exactly light to begin with. Now that I am starting to improve, my weight bothers me and disgusts me which then spirals down into depression again. I think a lot of my weight problems stem from hitting puberty earlier than my classmates and feeling enormous next to them – but if I’d just been allowed to be who I was, I could have stayed around 140lbs which at 5’4″ is a pretty good weight – I was never going to be skinny. I hope I can take on board some of the important messages here and begin to accept who I am now.

  • December 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Icannot believe you used the word “chubbies”…I’ve been running from that classification all my life.

  • December 21, 2009 at 10:31 am

    @ Rach, I’m so glad you found the post helpful! That’s great that you’re starting to improve. It’s important to strive toward self-acceptance. I think that’s where leading a healthy lifestyle really stems from. Though it may be hard, try to avoid feeling disgusted and berating yourself.

    Instead, be proud of yourself that you’re working through your depression and getting better (again, that’s really great! it’s no easy feat). Try to focus on eating healthfully, being active by doing things you enjoy, and doing good things for yourself overall. Try to treat yourself with kindness – you deserve it.

  • December 22, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Margarita –

    Thanks for the shout out on my Today Show interview.
    I love the dialogue you’ve started here. I think the choices we make around the holidays are so totally loaded with other emotional layers that sometimes it’s just not about the food — and advice that skims the surface of the deeper issues for women – does a disservice – not only in perpetuating stereotypes for women and food but also for cutting us off from some of the more complex conversations that need to take place so we can finally unload those layers once and for all!

    XO Jess

  • December 22, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Jess, it’s so great to see your comment! I’m a huge fan of your work. Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

    It’s interesting: Just like sometimes we use food to blunt and push down our emotions, we can do the same around the dinner table with food talk.

    Instead of having the complex conversations we need to have, we talk about calories, others’ weight and how we have to work out ASAP. Food becomes a mask almost. We don’t talk about being upset with a family member, or being stressed out, or hating our bodies. Not that we should be all doom and gloom around the table. But it seems easier to talk about food and calories than what’s truly going on inside.

    And many magazines take the easy (sleazy) way out by giving food choices insulting categories and dumbing things down. And, like you said, definitely perpetuating stereotypes!

    Do others agree?

    Thanks again, Jess!

  • December 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I’m so glad I never read those magazines as a child/teen! Who KNOWS how I’d turn out? Probably with a lot more serious problems than I have


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