The holiday season is in our midst and it is a time to celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, the celebrating can lead to over-eating and weight gain. It is easy for healthy eating patterns to take a backseat this time of year. The holidays don't have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity and fun. By following a few tips you and your family can stay healthy through the holiday season.
Be realistic. Don't try to diet during the holidays; just try to maintain your weight.
Before a holiday event, eat a snack or light meal. Foods that have protein (yogurt, meat, cheese, nuts and milk) can help keep you full longer.
Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday party.
What a person drinks can add calories; limit alcohol, fruit punch, eggnog and soda, drink more water and milk. Alcohol increases hunger and lowers your will power.
Eat slowly; our stomach needs ~15-20 minutes to register that it is full.
Eat small portions of sweets and desserts; use self-restraint!
If hosting an event, provide healthier items such as vegetables, salad and fruit. Put these foods out before sweets so people will eat more of the healthier foods.
Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Use a small plate and choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Make sure to include fruits and veggies.
If you overeat at one meal go light on the next.
Take the focus off of food. Plan group activities
with family and friends that aren't all about food. Play games, go on a family walk or make holiday decorations.
Remember that the holidays are about spending time with family and friends-not the food! Socialize away from the food table and focus on good conversation.
Plan time to exercise during the holiday season. It can help ease holiday stress and prevent weight gain.
Prepare your favorite dishes with lower fat ingredients. Here are some simple cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier:
~Gravy- Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off.
~Dressing- Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.
~Turkey- Enjoy roasted turkey breast without the skin and you can reduce your intake of saturated fat. (Saturated fat and Trans fat are the bad fats; we want to limit our intake of these fats.)
~Green Bean Casserole- Cook fresh green beans with chunks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.
~Mashed Potato- Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
~Quick Holiday Nog- four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except the nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.
~Desserts- Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.
Remember: Plan time for activity, use healthier recipes when preparing food and don't restrict yourself from eating favorite holiday foods as long as it's in moderation. Most importantly, enjoy your time with family and friends during this holiday season!
Samantha Henning, Nutritional Services
Trinity Regional Medical Center