by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE

A holiday issue that spans December and January leaves me in a nutrition quandary. How am I supposed to cover both holiday cheer and New Year’s Resolutions in one article? As we participate in holiday cheer while racing toward our New Year health goals,  one thought comes to mind…”set yourself up for success.”  Considering both activity and food, I offer up two ways to do just that. If you practice NEAT (non-exercise activity thermoneognesis) and Volumetrics, you have opportunity for success during the holidays and beyond. The busy holiday season often zaps energy and workout opportunities. And while being sedentary has definite ill effects on our health, all is not lost if we don’t get to the gym.

One way to increase caloric burn is to implement non-exercise movement throughout the workday. Some jobs are naturally high in NEAT activity (think construction and housekeeping). Desk jobs, on the other hand, are primarily sedentary. Adding more NEAT activity to your day even if you can’t make it to the gym is one way to offset  sedentary behavior (however if you can still make it to the gym please do). Pick one or two NEAT activities to implement this holiday season using this list to get you started.

• Move your trash can from under your desk to a location that requires you to get up and walk to throw out your trash

• Get up and refill your water bottle frequently (drink the water, which will cause you to have to get up and go to the rest room☺).

• Stand while talking on the phone or shift your weight from one leg to another or better yet–pace.

• Jiggle legs while sitting

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator

• At home, play with your kids and walk the dog often

• Walk to the mailbox (maybe even more than once just for extra activity)

Volumetrics has to do with eating in such a way that promotes fullness on fewer calories (great concept right?). Volumetrics is based on maintaining the usual amount (volume) of food you eat, yet lowering the calories in each portion so you can consume fewer calories yet feel just as full. Research conducted by Barbara J. Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan suggests that people tend to eat the same volume of food each day. The easiest way to increase volume and decrease calories is to add vegetables. Eating vegetables is a common enough recommendation, but Volumetrics is a bit more than that as it focuses on the nutrient density, satiety value (fullness factor) and calorie content of food. Compare 2/3 cup of cooked rice (~170 calories) to 1/3 cup of rice plus 2/3 cups of roasted vegetables (~140 calories). Using this example, you get thirty fewer calories, more food (to keep you full longer) and more nutrients.

Broth based soup has been shown to help people to feel full and eat less overall. Research conducted by Dr. Rolls showed that consuming broth based soup with a meal significantly reduced total meal calorie intake by 20% compared with having no soup. Broth based soups are usually rich in vegetables are higher in weight (volume) with less calories so they serve the purpose of feeling full on fewer calories through the holidays and beyond. Here is a delicious soup to fill you up but not out.

Turkey Meatball Soup

This soup is one the whole family will enjoy


1 pound ground turkey breast

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup bread crumbs

1 egg

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon rubbed sage

¼ teaspoon salt

Soup Base

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped carrot

2 cups chopped celery

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

3 cups whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked

Chopped parsley (garnish)

To make the meatballs combine all the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together. Make 1-inch meatballs (30 meatballs) and set aside.

Spray the bottom of a Dutch oven with vegetable oil cooking spray, add 1 teaspoon canola oil and place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add onion, celery, carrots and sage, sauté for 3 minutes.  Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Gently add meatballs, cover and let simmer 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook for an additional 6 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Ladle into bowls and top with parsley.

Yield: 6 servings (Serving size: 5 meatballs, 1 cup soup)

Nutrition Breakdown: Calories 300, Fat 6g (2g saturated fat), Cholesterol 70mg, Sodium 540mg, Carbohydrate 37g, Fiber 5g, Protein 30g.

Kim’s note: Alternatively the meatballs could be baked in the oven.  Place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with vegetable oil cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. This gives the meatballs a nice golden color.

Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at


This article appears in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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