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ON NUTRITION: Nourishment for the holidays

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Food Column Healthy Breakfast Patties

Homemade turkey sausage breakfast patties are served with fruit for a healthy breakfast.

I am not making this up. The day after I submitted my last column, in which I admitted my penchant for peppermint during the holidays, I received a package from my very favorite boss of days gone by.

Along with a personally knitted red wool and mohair scarf that will serve me well on cold winter mornings on our ranch, the package included a bar of peppermint bark. As the label states, it was indeed a “delightful bite of holiday bliss!” Thank you, Janice.

So here we are in the midst of a busy holiday season. Personally, I get easily distracted this time of the year. And that sometimes means I don’t practice what I preach nutritionally.

Like eating breakfast. Studies continue to confirm that we miss out on important nutrients when we forgo this first meal of the day. Researchers report that when we skip breakfast, we tend to make up for it by consuming more fat, sugar and total calories at lunch, dinner and snacks. Yep.

What if you’re practicing intermittent fasting, which may mean you delay eating until noon or so? Even though these diets can be helpful for weight loss, remind yourself that when you do have your first meal of the day, peppermint bark is not the best choice.

And here’s another reason to seek a high-quality diet even when you’re running around like a crazed elf. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms again that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes can actually promote healthy aging and a longer life. These researchers found that the nutrients and antioxidants in these foods could stabilize some of the detrimental effects of daily living all the way down to our genes. People in this study who ate a higher-quality diet showed fewer signs of aging, lower weights and higher amounts of good HDL cholesterol in their blood than those who skipped these foods.

Also important — and I’m saying this to myself — do not become so distracted with your to-dos that you forget to drink adequate fluids during the day. Sorry, that champagne you shared with your daughter for her birthday does not count as a reliable fluid source.

What fluids do keep us hydrated and popping on all cylinders? Water, milk, juice, tea, coffee or other types of unsweetened beverages all count. How much? Unless you have been advised to limit your fluid intake for medical reasons, the old rule of eight (8-ounce) servings a day is a good place to start.

Lastly, it’s wonderful to take in all the delicious sights, sounds and tastes of this holiday season. Let’s try to enhance our stamina and enjoyment of it all by remembering to nourish ourselves from the inside out.

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian. Email her at



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