Holiday 2007 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Make good nutritional choices in your holiday meal ingredients

The winter holidays shouldn’t be a nightmare for people watching their waistlines. Experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center offer a few tips on how to cut calories and eat sensibly.

“Place a super-sized salad bowl filled with fresh leafy greens and colorful veggies at the front of the serving line,” says Lona Sandon, a registered dietician at UT Southwestern. “This will encourage you and your guests to start the meal with a healthful, high fiber, low-calorie appetizer.”

Other tips include:

  • Use broth to sauté instead of butter — 104 calories saved per tablespoon;
  • Substitute 1/3 cup of mayonnaise and 1/3 cup of nonfat yogurt for 2/3 cup of mayonnaise — 480 calories saved;
  • Use nonfat milk instead of whole milk — 60 calories saved per cup;
  • Use plain nonfat yogurt instead of cream — 720 calories saved per cup; and
  • Eat skinless chicken — 360 calories saved per whole bird

Cooks should also experiment with sugar substitute Splenda, a no-calorie sweetener ideal for baking at up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Every time you use one tablespoon of Splenda rather than sugar you save 45 calories.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Take potential pain out of champagne – practice safe uncorking of the bubbly

Exploding champagne corks may add a dramatic flair to a holiday party, but they can also cause serious eye injuries such as ruptured globes, detached retinas and painful bruising. Dr. Preston Blomquist, an ophthalmologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, recommends the following safety tips:

  • Chill champagne and sparkling wine to at least 45 degrees; a cork in a cold bottle is less likely to pop unexpectedly.
  • Hold the cork down with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood.
  • Point the bottle away from people, and hold it at a 45-degree angle.
  • Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle, grasp the cork, and slowly and firmly twist to break the seal. Hold the bottle firmly with one hand and use the other hand to slowly turn the cork with a slight upward pull. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the outward force of the cork by applying slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in eyes (ophthalmology).

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Parties can bring joy, and sometimes unplanned discomfort

Holiday partygoers may choose to mingle first and eat later, but they may return home with an unexpected guest — an upset stomach — if those foods have been sitting at improper temperatures for too long, says Dr. Vickie Vaclavik, a clinical nutritionist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“To deter bacteria growth, holiday party hosts should remember the two-hour rule,” she says. “Foods should not sit unprotected at room temperature for more than about two hours.”

Cream-based products, eggs, meats and milk are examples of foods in party fare that naturally promote bacteria growth that cause food-borne illness.

“If these categories of foods are to be left out — either unrefrigerated or not held hot — they may become unsafe to eat. The host may use smaller, easily replaced batches, which should be discarded after a couple of hours, or the foods should be held at the right temperatures.”

Other tips include: Replacing platters for fresh food instead of adding fresh food to a dirtied dish; keeping hot foods at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, and cold foods at 40 degrees F or colder; keeping your hands, work surfaces and utensils clean.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Remember the gift for all seasons

As hearts swell with the season, our charitable donations rise. In this time of personal philanthropy, resolve to make a regular donation at the bank as well.

The blood bank.

Because of the perishable nature of blood and its components, the supply must be replenished regularly.

“So now is the time for a New Year’s resolution to donate blood at routine intervals, preferably twice a year,” says Dr. Ravi Sarode, a pathologist who heads the Transfusion Medicine and Coagulation Laboratory at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“To jog your memory,” he says, “you might schedule your blood donations to coincide with your birthday and wedding anniversary or some other personal and perennial event to time your visits to the blood bank at five- or six-month intervals.”

“The shelf life for platelets is only five days and, therefore, there is often a shortage of this critical blood component, especially during a long holiday season,” Sarode says. “When you donate whole blood, you help three or four patients because whole blood is then divided into three or four of its major components, such as red cells, platelets and plasma. You can choose to donate either whole blood or only platelets or red cells.”

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

With dietary diligence, it's OK to be a little nutty

We all love nuts. The tasty morsels are showing up everywhere – toasted walnuts on salads, pecan-crusted fish, and macadamia nut oil in the latest diet. But is it wise to add nuts to your diet? Although fat- and calorie-laden, nuts provide healthy, cholesterol-lowering fats, vitamin E and fiber.

Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a clinical nutritionist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, warns that although including nuts frequently can be a healthy move, they should be substituted for other foods. “Adding rather than substituting nuts can tip the energy balance in favor of weight gain,” she says.

For example, replace some of the chicken in chicken salad with pecans and celery for a delightfully crunchy texture; or substitute an afternoon candy bar with trail mix that includes nuts; and instead of a ham sandwich, build a brown bag lunch around fruit, yogurt and nuts.

Several nuts are especially heart-healthy.

English walnuts contain primarily polyunsaturated fats, including alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid. Our bodies convert a small amount of alpha-linolenic acid to the longer chain fatty acids found in fish oils. Research suggests walnuts have cardiovascular benefits.

Pecans, peanuts and macadamia nuts, however, are high in monounsaturated fats that can lower your low-density lipoproteins, or “bad” cholesterol.

Almonds and pistachios are among the lowest in fat and calories, while macadamia nuts have the most fat and calories per ounce.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

 Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Violent toys, video games can be destructive

Forget what the neighbors’ kids play. Be wary of the social-emotional risks of certain toys, as many send a violent message that could later lead to destructive behavior.

Dr. Joel Steinberg, a pediatrician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says, “Parents should be very careful in selecting toys that may encourage violent behaviors, such as toy guns, knives, bow and arrows, or computer games and violent videos.”

Youngsters who play “violent video games” are not participating in real-life experiences. If they run into a roadblock on a computer game, they may destroy it, and that’s not appropriate in real life, the physician says.

Steinberg offers these other holiday-shopping tips:

  • Purchase toys that are age appropriate. Toys too advanced may frustrate your child
  • Be sure the toys aren’t designed so a child can break them and choke on small parts.
  • Test a noise-making toy next to your ear. If the sound is too loud or irritating for you, then it’s likely to be harmful to your child.
  • Pull-toys with strings more than 12 inches in length could be a strangulation hazard for babies and toddlers.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in pediatrics.

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford

Don’t let drinking wreck your holiday season

The holidays are filled with familiar sing-along refrains, like “Let it snow, Let is snow, Let it snow.”

Another one worth repeating? Don’t drink and drive, Don’t drink and drive, Don’t drink and drive.

Not surprisingly, the number of injuries and deaths from alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents increases during the holiday season as people leave festivities after drinking too much.

It’s not because people are depressed; it’s just because they’re partying, and they think it’s OK to drink and drive,” says Dr. Kathleen Delaney, an emergency medicine and internal medicine physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “It’s better to call a cab than to pay for a hospital bill – or a funeral.”

Legal blood-alcohol limits for a driver vary among states. Regardless, people experience coordination impairment and reduced alertness with blood alcohol levels of 0.05. A 120-pound woman reaches 0.04 after consuming one 12-ounce beer. A 160-pound man reaches 0.05 after two beers.

“Common sense says you know that you’re impaired even at those levels,” Dr. Delaney says. “It’s the holidays, so you’re going to have a few drinks and enjoy yourself. But just don’t drive a vehicle. Designate a driver. Being in an accident is not a good holiday present.”

For those who will not be driving, Dr. Delaney recommends limiting total alcohol consumption, spacing alcoholic beverages at least an hour apart and having a nonalcoholic beverage between drinks to help counteract alcohol’s dehydrating effects. Also, ensure that all drinks containing alcohol – including eggnog and punch — are out of the reach of children. Alcohol consumption can cause a child’s blood sugar to plummet, she says.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto


To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at