3 Holiday Goodies That Are Actually Good for You

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Story Updated: Nov 21, 2012

It's tough not to have food on the brain during the holidays. Walk into a store, open a magazine or sneak a peek at just about any site, and you'll see photos or displays featuring endless varieties of treats and holiday fixings. Plus, all those family gatherings and office parties can sabotage even the best of intentions.

While research shows that most of us gain some weight over the holidays, it doesn't have to be that way. First off, you don't have to cross off some of your favorite foods, thinking they're bad for you just because they taste good. Second, there are ways to fix up your faves so they are healthier.

Here are three foods that get an undeserved bad rap.

1. Popcorn.
After it was revealed that -- horrors! -- a medium-sized movie popcorn bag, along with a medium soda, was equivalent of eating three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, popcorn got a bad rap.

But you need not forgo your love of the grain. That's right, popcorn is a grain; better yet, a whole grain, meaning it retains its fiber, iron and B vitamins (unlike refined grains, which are stripped of these healthy benefits). Studies show that whole grains may be beneficial for your heart, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight. Compared with other snack foods, popcorn is relatively low in calories.

What not to eat: Shun the movie-style stuff, which is cooked in lots of oil, butter and loaded with salt. Instead, opt for air-popped. Add some flavor by sprinkling with grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese, or a little bit of butter. You'll still come out way ahead in the calorie department.

2. Chocolate.
Long relegated to a bad reputation because of the calories, sugar, fat and caffeine, dark chocolate gets a pass, because it has so many healthy benefits (sorry milk chocolate fans). Why? It contains powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also abundant in red wine, green tea, fruits and veggies and are associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and stroke.

What not to eat: While the dark stuff may be healthy that doesn't mean you can justify digging into a big slab of chocolate cake or indulge in that Godiva gift box (even if it's stuffed with the dark stuff). A German study that reported on chocolate's health benefits also found that you need only consume about six grams a day, which is the equivalent of about one square of a chocolate bar.

3. Potatoes.
You may think they're unhealthy because they contain carbs, yet one medium-sized potato has just 110 calories and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Potatoes are also a valuable source of potassium (keep the skin on to gain those benefits), Vitamin C, fiber and iron. And of course, there's always that orange-fleshed sweet potato (which can sometimes even taste like dessert!), a rich source of beta carotene, antioxidants and vitamins.

What not to eat: As they say, it's all in the preparation. Mashed potatoes are typically loaded with butter, cream and salt. French fries are high in fat and calories because of the oil they're fried in. Your safest bet is a baked potato topped with plain yogurt or a small dollop of butter. If no Thanksgiving meal is complete without a side of mashed potatoes, substitute light sour cream and chicken broth instead of the cream and butter for a healthier take.

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Dr. Dzwonczyk – Medical Director

Geriatric Medicine

NYS Veterans' Home at Oxford

Welcome to New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford
The New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford is a 242 bed facility located in Chenango County about thirty miles north of Binghamton NY. Situated on a sixty acre site, the Home has spectacular scenic views of rural countryland. We provide state of the art medical, nursing, psychosocial, and rehabilitative services to our residents. We also have several academic affiliations including the Upstate Medical Center College of Medicine/Clinical Campus at Binghamton.

About Us
The New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford is a long term care skilled nursing facility. We are located in Oxford NY, and we serve the Central New York Region. We provide care for veterans and their dependents. Our current building has 242 beds in seven different units, including our rehabilitation unit and our dementia unit. Our facility is clean and pleasant, and our staff is friendly and professional. We welcome you to a guided tour upon request!

Dr. Dzwonczyk – Medical Director

Dr. Dzwonczyk Receives Certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Philip J. Dzwonczyk, MD has been certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Dzwonczyk joins more than nineteen hundred fellow physicians to have achieved such certification.

Hospice and palliative medicine is the medical discipline of the broad therapeutic model known as hospice and palliative care. The discipline and model of care are devoted to achieving the best possible quality of life for the patient and family throughout the course of a life-threatening illness through the relief of suffering and the control of symptoms. Hospice and palliative medicine helps the patient and family face the prospect of death assured that comfort will be a priority, values and decisions will be respected, spiritual and psychosocial needs will be addressed, practical support will be available and opportunities will exist for growth and development. Hospice in the United States is an organized program that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients and supportive services to patients, their families, and significant others.

Dr. Dzwonczyk is the medical director of the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford. He recently completed the Harvard Medical School Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice and has worked for many years as an internist and geriatrician practicing in central New York. Dr. Dzwonczyk received his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and his doctor of medicine degree from Jefferson Medical College. He trained in internal medicine and psychiatry at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds specialty certificates in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. He has achieved Certified Medical Director status from the American Medical Directors Association and is a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Dzwonczyk has directed the medical care of patients at the New York State Veterans Home since 1993 and has been active as a medical educator. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Upstate Medical University and is active as a member of the faculty of the Geriatric Medicine Clerkship of the Clinical Campus in Binghamton. In addition to his interest in palliative care, Dr. Dzwonczyk has an interest in the evaluation and management of cognitive and mood disorders of the elderly.

The American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine was formed in 1995 to establish and measure the level of knowledge, attitudes and skills required for certification of physicians practicing hospice and palliative medicine. Eligibility requirements for certification are significant. In order to be eligible to sit for the certifying examination, applicants must have received prior major specialty certification, practiced at least two years following residency, worked as a member of an interdisciplinary team for at least two years and have directly participated in the active care of at least fifty terminally ill patients in the preceding three years. Alternatively, applicants must have completed specialty fellowship training in palliative medicine. The fellowship training program must be at least one year in length and must meet the established voluntary standards for such a program.

ABHPM conducts its Certification Examination in Hospice and Palliative Medicine annually at multiple sites through the United States. Currently, 1908 physicians have been certified by virtue of meeting certification requirements, including successful completion of this examination. A listing of currently certified physicians may be viewed on the Boards website at www.ABHPM.org.

Information on the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine may be obtained from the website at www.ABHPM.org or by call (301) 439-8001.

Welcome to New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford