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Airman 1st Class Adam Aikens, 23, of Camden, N.Y., reaches the end of a long serving line with a full plate Tuesday evening at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Aikens and other single servicemembers living in the dormitories had an early home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of the 373rd Intelligence Group's Senior Enlisted Council and U.S. Navy Information Operations Command's Chief Petty Officer Association. The two groups combined to prepare food for 200 to 300 single airmen, sailors and soldiers at Misawa who work on Security Hill.
Airman 1st Class Adam Aikens, 23, of Camden, N.Y., reaches the end of a long serving line with a full plate Tuesday evening at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Aikens and other single servicemembers living in the dormitories had an early home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of the 373rd Intelligence Group's Senior Enlisted Council and U.S. Navy Information Operations Command's Chief Petty Officer Association. The two groups combined to prepare food for 200 to 300 single airmen, sailors and soldiers at Misawa who work on Security Hill. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)
Airman 1st Class Adam Aikens, 23, of Camden, N.Y., reaches the end of a long serving line with a full plate Tuesday evening at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Aikens and other single servicemembers living in the dormitories had an early home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of the 373rd Intelligence Group's Senior Enlisted Council and U.S. Navy Information Operations Command's Chief Petty Officer Association. The two groups combined to prepare food for 200 to 300 single airmen, sailors and soldiers at Misawa who work on Security Hill.
Airman 1st Class Adam Aikens, 23, of Camden, N.Y., reaches the end of a long serving line with a full plate Tuesday evening at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Aikens and other single servicemembers living in the dormitories had an early home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of the 373rd Intelligence Group's Senior Enlisted Council and U.S. Navy Information Operations Command's Chief Petty Officer Association. The two groups combined to prepare food for 200 to 300 single airmen, sailors and soldiers at Misawa who work on Security Hill. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)
Master Sgt. Ken Wolff, left, and Master Sgt. Joey Blankenship carry a hot tray of corn while helping prepare a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal Tuesday for single airmen at Misawa.
Master Sgt. Ken Wolff, left, and Master Sgt. Joey Blankenship carry a hot tray of corn while helping prepare a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal Tuesday for single airmen at Misawa. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)
Chief Petty Officer Clarence Hackney carves some turkey Tuesday night in Building 544 at Misawa.
Chief Petty Officer Clarence Hackney carves some turkey Tuesday night in Building 544 at Misawa. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)
Staff Sgt. Herbert Copemann, 26, loads up his plate with traditional Thanksgiving food Tuesday night at Misawa.
Staff Sgt. Herbert Copemann, 26, loads up his plate with traditional Thanksgiving food Tuesday night at Misawa. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — With Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas hams and New Year’s cocktails headed our way, people trying to lose weight could be in for a struggle.

“This time of the year, we don’t see anyone in here,” said Staff Sgt. Liezel Huynh, a diet therapist at Yokota’s Health and Wellness Center. “Not until January, when their New Year’s resolutions begin.”

While the urge to chow down on as much food and drink as possible is as much a part of Thanksgiving tradition as the Pilgrims and backyard football, many people choose to ignore healthy eating during the whole holiday period.

“A typical Thanksgiving meal can easily be about 2,000 to 3,000 calories,” said Huynh, adding that the amount is far more than what the average person should consume in one day.

However, she said, there are plenty of ways to still enjoy the holidays without having to worry about gaining weight.

“Don’t go to dinner hungry. We often eat faster and more when we are hungry,” she said, explaining that many people tend to avoid eating all day before a big holiday meal to save room for dinner. “Remember to still eat a hearty breakfast and a balanced lunch to avoid overeating at dinner time.”

Remembering to control what you put on your plate is also very important, Huynh explained.

“Try to sample different foods,” she said. “It helps if you fill half of your plate with veggies, a quarter of lean meat and a quarter of your choice of starch.”

The most important tip to remember while feasting is to be conscious of what you are actually eating and to control your portion size, Huynh said.

According to Huynh, if you can’t control the ingredients that go into the dish, simply limit yourself to a smaller helping.

But you also need to be careful about how you wash down your meal.

Alcohol, “which is basically fermented sugar,” Huynh explained, can pack several hundred calories in just one eight-ounce serving.

“Pass on soda or cocktails,” she said. “Alcohol and coffee can also dehydrate you. Drink water before, during and after the meals.”

The next day, it is also essential to not starve yourself to make up for what you ate the night before. Having a healthy low-fat, high-fiber meal is a good way to get back on track and maintain a healthy weight, she said.

One healthy food that will certainly be in abundance after a holiday meal is turkey.

Skinless turkey breast is a great low-fat, low-calorie food, said Huynh, who recommended a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with lots of vegetables or a salad topped with slices of turkey breast as healthy ways to get rid of leftovers.

Burning off the excess calories from the holidays also means staying active even though there are fewer hours of daylight and colder temperatures.

The best way is to try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day during the holiday week, Huynh said.

“Even if it’s just walking around the mall for a few hours Christmas shopping with a spouse or friend, try to stay active,” she said.

Cooking tips for a healthy holiday meal¶ Instead of frying food, bake, broil or grill it.

¶ Avoid too many creamy or cheesy high-fat dishes.

¶ When making creamy or cheesy dishes, use low-fat ingredients. (But remember that nonfat cheese does not melt as well in cooking and baking.)

¶ When cooking vegetables, remember “fresh, then frozen, then canned.” The less processed the vegetable, the healthier it is.

¶ Make smart decisions when picking your protein sources by using leaner meats.

¶ Try substituting more healthful ingredients. Replace:

One whole egg with two egg whites.Sour cream with low-fat plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream.Whole milk with skim or 1 percent milk.Ice cream with frozen yogurt.Whipped cream with chilled evaporated skim milk or other low-fat whipped products.If a recipe calls for heavy cream (not for whipping) use a 1:1 ratio of flour whisked into nonfat milk.

Source: Yokota Health and Wellness Center.

We asked: Are you worried about your weight?

With the holiday season approaching, bringing with it turkey dinners, office parties and colder temperatures during PT, are you concerned about gaining extra weight? (Asked by Stars and Stripes reporters Travis Tritten, Vince Little and Jennifer H. Svan)

"I’m not too concerned about it since I’ll be going to the desert soon on deployment. Whatever I gain now, it’s not much of a problem … So I can stuff my face now, and shortly after, I’ll wind up losing it all again."— David Blanco, Senior airman, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Yokota Air Base

"I’m not too worried. I just work out six times a week, do cardio five times a week. I usually try not to eat sweets. I try to limit myself to a piece of cake once a week. Brownies kill me."— Jordan Wagner, Airman 1st Class, 373rd Support Squadron, Misawa Air Base

“The wife here she is a really good cook. I worry about that a lot. It is really hard to stay away from the high-calorie stuff during the holidays”— Joseph Crawford, Petty Officer 2nd Class, Sasebo Naval Base

"No. I’m cycling about 120 (kilometers) on the weekends. I’m a big-time cyclist. As many carbs as I burn, food is a friend of mine. Going out on a four to six-hour ride is a 4,000-calorie day for me. Eating for me is good, so I load up."— Sha Ballard, Master sergeant, 730th Air Mobility Squadron, Yokota Air Base

"Of course. I gain weight whether it’s the holidays or not."— David Nieto, Senior airman, 301st Intelligence Squadron, Misawa Air Base

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