Lighter Versions of Thanksgiving Favorites

November 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Prepping and eating a Thanksgiving dinner comprised of traditional holiday foods doesn’t have to negatively affect your waist line. With a mission to “maintain, don’t gain” this Thanksgiving, try making healthy substitutions and adjustments to your classic meal.

You can cut many calories and fat from a traditional Thanksgiving feast through minor substitutions, such as the following:

Instead of these high-fat traditional foods…

  • Turkey, white and dark meat, 6 oz. – 334 calories, 14 g fat
  • Cornbread stuffing, 1 cup – 423 calories, 31 g fat
  • Mashed potatoes, ½ cup – 219 calories, 17 g fat
  • Sauteed green beans, ½ cup – 153 calories, 13 g fat
  • Homemade rolls, 2 – 300 calories, 8 g fat
  • Gravy, 5 ladles – 920 calories, 96 g fat
  • Pecan pie, 1 slice – 241 calories, 12 g fat

Try these low-fat traditional food substitutions!

  • Turkey breast roasted without skin, 6 oz. – 314 calories, 6.4 g fat
  • Wild rice stuffing, 1 cup – 260 calories, 4 g fat
  • Baked sweet potato, 7 oz. – 236 calories, a trace of fat
  • Baked potato, 7 oz. – 220 calories, a trace of fat
  • Green beans, 2 cups – 100 calories, 0 g fat
  • Whole grain rolls, 2 – 220 calories, 2 g fat
  • Cranberry sauce, ½ cup – 209 calories, 0 g fat
  • Angel food cake, 1 slice – 250 calories, a trace of fat

The high fat meal contains 2590 calories and 191 grams of fat. The low fat meal contains 1809 calories and just 12.4 grams of fat. Additionally, cutting portion sizes (such as eating only ½ cup of stuffing instead of ¾ cup) can save extra calories from making their way onto your plate.

Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services offer additional tips and tricks to help you enjoy holiday meals while still staying on track with your healthy eating plan:

  1. Set a realistic goal – maintaining and not gaining weight is a great success!
  2. Start the day with a balanced breakfast. Don’t “save up” for a celebration later in the day when you are hungry and high fat options are available.
  3. Select a smaller plate for portion control.
  4. Be satisfied, not stuffed.
  5. Plan to enjoy all your favorites in moderation. If you don’t love it, then don’t eat it – save the calories for something you’ll really enjoy.
  6. Try limiting your celebration to one day which will not break your eating program. Send leftovers home with guests or avoid making too much.
  7. Be active and keep moving to help burn those extra calories and help manage stress.

We wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Cooper Updates

National Healthy Eating Day – How the Experts Make Healthy Eating Happen

November 4, 2015 Leave a comment

Making healthy food choices is one of Dr. Cooper’s 8 steps to Get Cooperized™. It can be tough to integrate enough servings of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy food into a daily routine, especially if you live with a picky eater or have children who are more interested in snacking on tasty junk food.

The Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services team is made up of people who face similar challenges, and they have developed some simple and effective ways to make sure healthy eating becomes a habit in their households, at school and at the office. Check out their great tips, and try implementing a few of them into your daily routine!

Elana Paddock, RDN:

“I pack lunch for the week on Sundays, including things such as bags of grapes and raw veggies. I grab the pre-made components of my lunch each day and it’s so easy because everything is ready to go!”

Sara McHenry, Diet Technician:

“I try to make dinner at home most nights out of the week and when I do, I make enough for lunch, too. I pack it up that night before so it is ready to go in the morning and I’m not tempted to go out and buy junk food.”

Meridan Zerner, RDN:

“I drag out the crockpot weekly this time of year – and toss in everything but the kitchen sink (especially frozen veggies!).  Also, any time I am in a drive-thru or at a restaurant I get an additional salad “to go” for me or my husband to have as lunch the next day.”

Molly Wangsgaard, RDN:

“I cut raw veggies in advance and make individual bags to take to work for lunch each day, and I roast a big pan of veggies a couple nights of week—one pan gives me veggies for two or three dinners.

Another thing I do is keep individually-wrapped sweets in my office drawer and pantry to help curb my sweet tooth.  Two pieces of dark chocolate or a piece of sugar-free gum usually satisfies the desire to end the meal with something sweet!”

Patty Kirk, RDN:

“At the beginning of the week, I bring enough food to work for healthy snacks and lunches so I don’t have to think about it every day. Examples include tuna, Amy’s Bean Burritos, whole wheat  or sprouted bread, tomatoes, dark green salad greens pre-washed, fresh fruit, light Babybel or 2% cheese, wheat thins and Boom Chicka Pop popcorn.

One other idea that works for me for a quick dinner is picking up Wendy’s chili (a great source of protein and fiber), taking it home and adding a quick dark green leafy salad that has been pre-washed. Dinner is ready in less than 5 minutes, and is great for a cool night!”

Gillian Gatewood, RDN:

“On Sundays I pre-cut veggies for the week, and pre-portion snacks in plastic bags. Examples include bell peppers, carrots, zucchini and nuts with whole grain cereal like Kashi.”

Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN:

“I keep eggs, egg beaters, low fat yogurt, low fat milk, Babybel Light Cheese, and Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grape tomatoes, bananas, orange marmalade, and lemons in my fridge at all times.

I keep Muir Glen Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Marcona almonds, fresh garlic,Triscuits, peanut butter, Seeds of Change Quinoa & Brown Rice, oatmeal and whole wheat pasta in my pantry.

From these ingredients I can make really wonderful meals in minutes!

(I know you are thinking ‘of course you do’ …. But I also go through KFC drive-thru and pick up a grilled chicken breast, corn on the cob and green beans at least once a week.)”

Cynthanne Duryea, RDN:

“My personal strategy is to prepare lean meat about two times per week.  If I want the Crock Pot meal to be low sodium, I add chopped onion, or 1 pound of sliced mushrooms, maybe garlic cloves, or a variety of vegetables like celery, carrots and onions diced. The flavors of the vegetables mingle into the meat, and keep the meat low sodium yet flavorful. A reduced sodium soup can always be used also.

By using the crock pot, the hardest part of the meal (the lean meat) is already complete by the time I get home from work, and my house smells amazing!”

Colleen Loveland, RDN:

“Once a week I pick up a rotisserie chicken from Kroger, throw in a Birdseye steamer or two for a quick healthy dinner before leaving for a practice or a game. I also spend Sundays washing grapes and carrots to put in bowls that are placed on the middle shelf in fridge and I pre-prep a salad that will last a couple of days so I can pull those out when I get home from work. I always pack my lunch for work.”

Do you have a favorite healthy eating tip? Share with us in the comments below!

Stress Less Before the Holiday Season

October 20, 2015 Leave a comment

BlogStressFinalAs one of the busiest times of the year quickly approaches, many people begin to feel the effects of both personal and professional pressures. These causes of stress can be harmful to your health if not managed properly. Acute stress is short and intense in duration and impacts the central nervous system. Chronic stress lasts longer than 20 minutes and impacts the endocrine (hormonal) system. The human body is only designed to respond to acute stress – this is your “fight or flight” response. The body is not programmed to combat chronic stress, which is why those experiencing chronic stress often present health issues. Did you know…

  • 1/3 of people in the U.S. report experiencing extreme levels of stress
  • 1/5 report that they are experiencing high levels of stress 15 or more days per month
  • Stress keeps more than 40 percent of adults lying awake at night, according to American Psychological Association’s 2012 Stress in America™ survey

“Stress is part of life,” says Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH, Founder and Chairman of Cooper Aerobics. Stress can increase your chance of suffering a heart attack and pose a serious threat to your health. But, “it’s not stress that kills, it’s the way you handle it,” Dr. Cooper notes.

Managing stress effectively can take many forms. It has been proven that a single session of 25-60 minutes of aerobic exercise increases positive mood feelings while also decreasing negative mood feelings. Additionally, eating healthy and nutritious foods can boost serotonin (the “happiness hormone”), folic acid and vitamins D and C. Taking time to breathe deeply, enjoy nature and go on vacation are other ways to combat the negative effects of stress.

Think you’ve got stress management down pat? Take our stress management quiz to find out!

  1. Can you identify the term referencing the science of laughter?
    a. Gelotology
    b. Laughotology
    c. Humorology
    d. Comedicology
  1. How can laughter and humor be beneficial to your health?
    a.They can decrease stress
    b. Laughter has some similarities to a brief workout (called “internal jogging”)
    c. Humor can help put your problems into a different perspective
    d. All of the above
  1. How can frequent or over-reactive anger be harmful to your health?
    a. “Anger-in” (internalized anger) can increase blood pressure and heart rate
    b. “Anger-out” (externalized anger) can damage relationships and social support, which are important stress buffers
    c. Both A and B
    d. Over-reactive anger can make you paranoid and anxious
  1. True or False? Being married is an important stress buffer.
  1. What is the term used when you experience too much stress?
    a. Overworked
    b. Distress
    c. Struggling
    d. Eustress

Answers: 1. A; 2. D; 3. C; 4. False: Not necessarily! A happy marriage is a great stress buffer, but being single is healthier than a bad marriage, which can increase unhealthy stress.; 5. B

Finding Healthy Options During Fall Festivities

Hot dogs! Funnel cakes! Cotton candy! You can picture it, right? You’re walking through the Midway at the State Fair of Texas, and vendors are calling out their delicacies to anyone who will listen. Or you’re approaching the concession stand at your favorite team’s football stadium, and the nachos and extra-large soda catch your eye. Do you indulge? Do you run away as fast as you can? Or do you try to avoid these situations all together?

Illuminated ferris wheel at a county fair in midwestern USA

Don’t be overwhelmed by food options at the fair. Healthy choices can be made, and moderation is key!

Cooper Clinic recommends a diet of moderation, wherein a person eats healthily 80 percent of the time and indulges in less healthy options 20 percent of the time. When it comes to navigating fall festivities with unhealthy food options, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services offers the following tips:

In the Stadium

You can browse team websites for information on the concession stand offerings. Many ballparks are now serving healthier options that can save you calories, offer heart healthy fats and provide complex carbohydrates rich in fiber, including:

  • Sandwiches with turkey deli meat
  • Burritos and burrito bowls
  • Baked potatoes
  • Veggie hot dogs
  • Red beans and rice
  • Chicken Caesar salad with light dressing
  • Smaller-sized hot dogs, sandwiches, fruit, fruit juice and milk (great for the kids…and you!)

Try these nutritious swaps and feel great about your eating choices when watching your favorite team. If allowed, bring your own healthy snacks to the game to help limit temptations that arise with a growling stomach. If you are not able bring your healthy food to the game, eat before you go and try to make only one trip to the concession stand.

At the Fair

  • Eat a healthy meal before going to the fair.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Alternate non-caloric or low-calorie beverages with caloric beverages.
  • If you go for the giant funnel cake, corn dog or other fried specialty, share it! You’ll still get a delicious taste of fair food without overloading on calories.
  • Use a pedometer or fitness tracking device to count your steps throughout the day.
  • Eat slowly and with purpose – sit down at a table to eat instead of continuing to browse other food options, games or shows with food in hand.
  • Take inventory of food options before settling on a meal or snack. Healthier options, like kabobs or sandwiches, may lie just around the corner!


  • Have a healthy snack before you arrive. Don’t skip meals thinking you can save up for the tailgate. Eat your regularly scheduled meals and snacks.
  • Focus on the game and the good company, not the food.
  • Alternate non-caloric beverages with caloric beverages. Calories add up quickly with alcohol and regular sodas.
  • Fill your plate once so you know what you are eating, instead of grazing all afternoon or evening.
  • Take your time and eat slowly…you’ll eat less.
  • Exercise either before or after the game.
  • Drink wisely and hydrate often. You can bring water bottles, low-calorie fitness water (Propel® or Glaceau’s vitaminwater), iced tea, diet green tea or diet sodas. You might try the “to go” packets of CRYSTAL LIGHT or tea to mix into water bottles.

Enjoying a game or afternoon at the fair does not have to use up your entire caloric, sugar and fats allowance. Do a little research beforehand, take inventory of your options and make the choices that are right for you. However, a little splurge now and then is perfectly acceptable – don’t be afraid to indulge in a scoop of ice cream or fried turkey leg, as long as you plan accordingly and make an effort to abide by the 80/20 rule!

Fueling Your Kids in the Fast Food Lane

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

The race is on!  School has started, activities are abundant and as a parent you are faced with balancing a very hectic schedule. It can be challenging to plan healthy snacks and figure out sensible choices when the convenience of fast food is inevitable.

Snacks can help bridge the gap between lunch and dinner by acting as fuel to supplement your kids’ diet, but not sabotage their appetite.

Secrets to Snacking Success:

  • Keep snacks around 150-200 calories.
  • Plan snacks to avoid snack “attacks.”
  • Limit high-fat, high-sugar foods in the house.
  • Keep serving sizes in check. For example, a ½ cup serving of Chex Mix has 150 calories, but a child can easily eat one or more cups which can double or triple the calories.
  • Pre-portion snacks in small bags instead of grabbing straight out of the container.
  • Serve snacks at the table, not in front of a screen.
  • Involve your child and give him or her choices.
  • Pair fiber-rich carbs with protein. See examples below.
Instead of This:                                                                     Try This:
1 ½ cups of Chex Mix:  450 calories 100 calorie bag of light microwave popcorn and

Light Babybel Cheese:  150 calories

Sonic chocolate milkshake (mini):  570 calories Fruit smoothie: blend fat free milk, frozen strawberries, ½ frozen banana and vanilla for 20 to 30 seconds:  200 calories
Oreo Mini Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Go Pak, 3.5 oz.: 455 Calories Spread fat free frozen yogurt between 2 sheets of graham crackers and thinly sliced ½ banana or ½ cup strawberries.  Freeze, if desired:  175-200 cal.
2 oz. bag of Cheetos: 340 calories  16 Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops with 4 Tbsp. bean dip mixed with 3 Tbsp. salsa:  200 calories
1 cup of ice cream:  320 calories Sugar cone filled with nonfat Greek yogurt and sliced fruit:  150 calories
Peanut butter sandwich with 2 Tbsp. peanut butter and 1 Tbsp. jelly:  380 calories Mini Pizza:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with pizza sauce sprinkled with 2% shredded cheese:  200 calories
1 cup granola cereal and milk:  500 calories Kashi Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt Chewy Granola Bar with ½ Tbsp. peanut butter:  190 calories

When it’s snack or dinner time and you’re running from soccer practice with one child to flute lessons with another, a grab-and-go fast food meal seems to be the answer.  Try to choose wisely so you don’t get short-changed on nutrition and end up with an excess load of calories and fat.

Tips to Navigate Fast Food:

  • Know before you go! Review menus with your children and have a plan of action for healthy choices.
  • Go for balance. Even fast food restaurants offer salads and fruit.  Substitute them for fries.  If fries are ordered, split them among several people at the table.
  • Downsize portions instead of supersizing! Portion control is the key. The average hamburger in the 1950’s was 1.5 ounces and today is 8 ounces.
  • Skip the liquid candy! Order low-fat milk or water instead of sodas or lemonade.
  • Trim the high fat, high calorie extras, including mayonnaise, dressings, sauces and cheese.
Instead of this: Try this:

6” turkey, ham, or roast beef



21 ounce soda:  930 calories

Subway Fresh Fit for Kids

4” turkey, ham, or roast beef

Apple slices

Low-fat milk:  320 calories

Chick- fil-A

6-count nuggets

Waffle fries

Soda:  770 calories


6-count grilled nuggets

Honey barbeque sauce or Buttermilk Ranch sauce

Fruit cup

Low fat milk:  300-345 calories


Burrito – flour tortilla, chicken, rice, cheese, and lettuce:  800 calories

Chipotle Kids Meal

Kids corn tortilla cheese quesadilla with black beans , low fat milk, and orange:  385 calories

McDonald’s Kids Mighty Meal

McDouble cheeseburger

Small French fries


Fat-free chocolate milk:  800 calories

McDonald’s Kids Meal


Kids’ fries

Apple slices

Low-fat milk:  475 calories

As a parent, the most important point to remember is you are your child’s role model and most influential teacher.  Their little eyes are on you, so practice what you preach. Don’t pig out when you eat out!  Instead, guide your children toward making better choices. Realize occasional indulgences are fine and can be worked into any healthy eating plan.  It’s not what you do on once every so often, it’s what you do every day that counts!

Flavor Up with Herbs and Spices!

September 8, 2015 Leave a comment

Cinnamon with soup? Curry powder with corn? Combining various herbs and spices with meats, vegetables and other dishes can add a kick of flavor without the need for additional salt. Lower your sodium levels and raise your cooking standards based on suggestions from Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services! Download your own handy guide here.


Maintain Healthy Skin, No Matter Your Age

Keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy as you age can seem like a complicated, time-consuming and expensive task. However, maintaining good health as you get older can translate into beautiful skin and a confident appearance.

blog_woman in mirrorCooper Clinic Dermatologist Dr. Helen Kaporis recommends using daily sunblock with SPF higher than 30. Sunblock not only reduces the risk of developing skin cancer, but also decreases premature collagen breakdown. We naturally lose one teaspoon of collagen each year in our face, and sunblock helps prevent additional breakdown.

Dr. Kaporis also notes that daily use of antioxidants can help diminish environmental free radicals that cause oxidative stress on skin. Antioxidants such as Obagi Vitamin C Serum or Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel Pump are her top recommendations. In addition, tretinoin or retinol can help reverse photo aging, fine lines and dyspigmentation.

Finally, Dr. Kaporis suggests using moisturizers with ceramics, such as Elta MD Lotion or Cerave Cream, on dry skin that develops over time. These products will help lock in moisture and repair damaged skin.

Cooper Spa’s newest esthetician, Andrea Rankin, also shares her own tips that can help you age beautifully:

  • Less is best! Too much product will strip your skin of the acid mantle, the skin’s natural protector, and imbalance your pH levels.
  • Wash your face both morning and night – and after any workout. Even if you don’t have time to fully shower, use a towelette on your face, neck and back to remove toxins and bacteria. And, if you have time, use a toner to moisturize and protect your skin until you have time to shower.
  • Before bed, wash your face properly and use moisturizer for soft and supple skin.
  • To support your diet for healthy skin, take Cooper Complete Dermatologic Health to be sure you’re taking in the proper nutrients.
  • Exfoliate once a week. Men typically exfoliate as they shave every day, but don’t forget to exfoliate your nose and forehead, too!

Andrea’s favorite age-defying skin care products include:

  • SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter
    • Improves skin creping and thinning
    • Corrects the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and rough texture
    • Restores water and nutrients to improve the appearance of skin elasticity
    • Restores comfort to dry, aging skin
  • SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Cream
    • Helps protect against stress factors and environmental aggressors
    • Combats the appearance of puffiness, sagging skin and dark circles
    • Supports the skin’s natural hydration
    • Suitable for normal, combination and oily aging skin

Focusing on skin care at any age is an important part of keeping your body healthy. Prevention is key – the more you can take care of and protect your skin in your younger years, the less your skin will seem to age in your later years. But remember, it’s never too late to start a skin care routine that will leave you looking and feeling beautiful!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,653 other followers