A Healthy Visit With Santa Claus

Photo by Ellie courtesy of morguefile.com

As we know, Santa isn’t exactly “svelte.” In our weight-conscious society, maybe Santa is a little concerned about his girth, too. How many of us would like it published that our belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly when we laugh? If I were Santa’s dietitian, our conversation might go something like this:

“Julie, my red suit is getting really tight and I’d like to shed a few pounds. If I keep gaining weight, I’m going to have to hire an extra reindeer to launch my sleigh. I’m afraid I will get stuck in more chimneys,” Santa exclaimed.

“Last year, people were leaving out low-carb snacks. They tasted like cardboard. Even Rudolph complained. Are carbohydrates really bad for you?” Santa added.

“Santa, all foods, including your favorite cookies and candy, can fit in a healthful diet. Foods are a mixture of protein, fat and carbohydrate. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are healthier carb choices. At least half of our grain choices should be whole grains. Oatmeal, popcorn and whole grain breads are examples. Half of our plates should be filled with fruits and vegetables,” I responded.

“Well, I’m built like a plump apple with spindly legs. Does that count toward my fruit needs?” Santa responded with a ho, ho, ho.

“Nice try. Eating more apples would be a good idea for you and the reindeer, though,” I quipped.

“The other day when I took a break from typing up my spreadsheet of good kids, I hopped online and I found a bunch of ways to lose weight fast. Then I couldn’t sleep, so I watched an infomercial about an exercise machine,” Santa said.

“We need to talk about overall health, too, Santa. If you dieted down to a size 34 suit, you wouldn’t necessarily be healthier,” I noted.

“If you are looking for a weight loss program, you need to find one that helps you develop healthier eating and physical activity habits for the long run. For long-term success, look for one with ongoing feedback and support. Weight loss should be slow and steady at about a pound or two a week,” I told him.

“OK, I won’t be fooled by the things I find on the Web, but I still need to trim down a little. Mrs. Claus and I are going to the Bahamas in February,” Santa said.

“You might want to visit with one of the dietitians at the North Pole. And be sure to see a doctor about your overall health, especially before you start exercising,” I replied.

“Exercise, too?” Santa exclaimed with mock alarm.

“Santa, I’m trying not to earn a lump of coal in my stocking, but, bottom line, you need to eat less and get more physical activity if you want to fit in your suit,” I said. “Try eating one small cookie instead of two at every house. Take Rudolph for a walk more often. Have fat-free milk instead of whole milk with your cookies. You might want to check out the nutrition resources at the Weight Information Network from the National Institutes of Health at win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/index.htm#public the next time you are surfing for health information.”

“I hope you’re still not upset with me about not getting an Easy-Bake oven when you were 10. I figured you should learn to use a full-sized one,” Santa said with a chuckle.

“Well, I’m leaving you some fruit for a pick-me-up because I still don’t have one of those little ovens. Here’s a simple recipe for you and Mrs. Claus to enjoy with some fresh, crispy red and green apples,” I said as I bade Santa farewell.

Creamsickle Fruit Dip

1 1/2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup frozen orange concentrate, thawed

Mix well and refrigerate until serving. Makes four servings. Each serving has 90 calories, no fat and 20 grams of carbohydrate.