Holiday Wellness Guide – 5 Tips for Surviving the Bulge

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By: Shelby Hunke, RD, LD

I know that a lot of people get concerned about holiday weight gain. Here are my 5 tips for managing your health during the busy holiday season:

  1. Don’t Drink Your Caloriesholidaydrinks
  • Alcoholic drinks really add up! It’s easy to drink 500-1000 calories.
  • Other caloric holiday drinks:
    • Hot chocolate
    • Eggnog
    • Punch
    • Cider

Work on limiting your intake of these items. Hot chocolate or specialty coffee drinks that are out this time of year can be really high in calories. They usually contain 2 percent or whole milk and whipped cream on top! Ask for skim milk, sugar free flavoring, and/or no whipped cream!

Christmas Table Arrangement

  1. Moderation is Key
  • The holidays only happen once per year and that mean some foods you only get one time a year!
  • So go ahead and have it – but be mindful of how much you have.
  • Everyone has that one item that they look forward to every holiday. Start out small though, you will be still be satisfied without stuffing yourself. My item is my Grandma’s fudge.
  1. How to Avoid Overeating
  • Don’t go to a holiday party or family gathering starving.
  • Don’t make it your only meal of the day.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Fill up on fiber.

If your family gathering or parties are like mine – there is always too much food! To avoid overeating – I just dish up a little bit (couple bites) of everything I want to try.  This way I can have it all without overdoing it. The items that I don’t limit my intake on are the vegetable tray, salads, and fresh fruit. These items help fill me up and keep my meal well balanced. I also try to avoid the bread or buns. If I don’t put it on my plate I usually forget about it and don’t even miss it!

Fruit Christmas tree with different berries, fruits and mint.

Fruit Christmas tree with different berries, fruits and mint.

I don’t add extra butter or gravy to my meal items. Remember that moderation is key and while I ALWAYS have vegetables on my plate, I also never skip dessert – because it’s my favorite part!

  1. Beat the Bloat
  • Drink plenty of water!
  • Exercise
  • Watch your sodium intake
  • Mixed nuts
  • Stay away from the relish tray (olives, pickles, dips, etc.).
  • Ham
  • Sugary Drinks
  • Snack mixes

It’s important to still drink water on the holidays. Often times when we’re out of our normal routines, we drink less water. This along with a food hangover can leave you feeling pretty awful the next day. So, remember to sip on water all day long!

Family Ice-Skating on Pond


  1. Exercise
  • It will burn calories and help with bloating.
  • Boost your mood (endorphins).
  • Think outside the box:
  • Build a snowman
  • Shoveling
    • 125 lb person, ½ hour – 180 calories
    • 155 lb person, ½ hour – 223 calories
  • Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
    • 130 lb person, 1 hour – 472 calories
    • 180 lb person, 1 hour – 650 calories
  • Sledding
  • Ice Skating
    • 130 lb person, 1 hour – 325 calories
    • 180 lb person, 1 hour – 450 calories
  • Cross Country Skiing
    • 130 lb person, 1 hour – 413-472 calories
    • 180 lb person, 1 hour – 572-654 calories

I know that a lot of people get concerned about holiday weight gain. Although the average person only gains about a pound during the holidays, this accumulates over the years. If you don’t change your lifestyle the weight will just keep going up. Make a commitment to your health, and decide to make small steps towards your best self, prior to the New Year!

Shelby and her family.

Shelby and her family.

About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a Registered Dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in Exercise Science and Dietetics with a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband Paul and two kids, Madison and Jackson. In her spare time she enjoys family time, running with her dog Bela and cooking!


Try out this great recipe to bring to any holiday party!

3 family fun recipes just in time for Halloween!

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By: Shelby Hunke, Registered Dietician, LD

With fall upon us, I love cooking hot dishes, soups and comfort foods. Traditionally foods like this can mean high fat and high calories, but I have some ideas and recipes to share with you to keep comfort food “light”. My biggest struggle with mealtime is getting a 1 year old, 3 year old, “meat eating” husband and myself to all agree on what to eat. I refuse to cook separate meals for everyone, so I have learned to lead by example and my kids will eat food that they see mom and dad eating.

A great soup recipe that I stumbled upon a few years ago, is Lentil Soup. I was really hesitant to make this because the picture didn’t look appealing, there was no meat in the recipe and I didn’t have a lot of experience cooking with lentils. I decided to try it anyways and now it is hands down one of my family’s favorite soup recipes. Here’s why I love it:


  1. It’s inexpensive.
  2. It only requires one pot.
  3. My kids love it!
  4. My “meat eating” husband loves it!

Lentil Soup:

  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb lentils, rinsed and picked
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½-1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (you can use one quart and the rest water to desired consistency)
Shelby's son enjoying the finished product!

Shelby’s son enjoying the finished product!

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots, season with salt and white pepper. Cook until soft and tender, about 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile rinse lentils in a colander and pick out any discolored ones.

Once vegetables are soft, add canned tomatoes, lentils, chicken or vegetable stock and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Cool soup slightly and puree to desired consistency with an immersion blender or in small batches using a blender or food processor. I don’t completely puree my soup, I leave a little bit of chunkiness to it.

NOTE: Lentils are a great source of lean protein and iron!!

Shelby's daughter

Shelby’s daughter

Another recipe I love for fall, especially for Halloween, are these scary apple mouths. This is a great activity for kids and it’s a super healthy snack!


  1. Wash apples and cut into quarters. Cut out the seeds and core on each quarter.
  2. Cut a slit on the skin side of each quarter to resemble a mouth.
  3. Fill that opening with peanut butter or nut butter of choice.
  4. Stick sliced almonds onto the peanut butter to resemble teeth.

Okay, so my final recipe for fall has to include pumpkin! I love this recipe because it can be made into loaves or muffins and it freezes well. Pumpkin is a great source of beta carotene, which is an antioxidant that converts to Vitamin A in the body.

Pumpkin Bread:

  • 1 can (15 oz) solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup fat free milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground all spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecan (optional)

In a large bowl, beat the pumpkin, milk, sugar, egg whites, oil and applesauce until well blended. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, all spice and salt; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture until blended. Stir in pecans.

Transfer to two 9×5 inch loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

To make half this into muffins – put half the batter into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and the other half of the batter into muffin tins filling ¾ full.

They’re cute, fun and make for great photos of your kids!

About the author: Shelby Hunke RD, LD lives in Wadena with her husband, three year old daughter and one year old son. She is passionate about the field of nutrition and spreading her knowledge and experience with others to make healthier lifestyle choices. She works in the Nutrition Services department at Tri-County Health Care and sees patients at the Wadena clinic location.