Healthful eating during the holiday season

holiday cookiesby Jenny Kinne MS, RD, LDN, CLC, clinical nutrition specialist in Gastroenterology/Nutrition.

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like the holiday season! With celebrations of all sorts just around the corner many people find themselves asking, how do you balance healthful eating with all the tempting treats and fun foods? Here are some tips to keep up healthful habits but also enjoy your holiday favorites.

  • Add color to your holiday spread by incorporating fruits and vegetables that are in season. Examples include: sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, cranberries, pear, pomegranates and clementines/oranges. Try adding these in a salad, main entrée or dessert.
  • Choose lean protein sources, such as turkey or chicken breast, fish, beans or legumes as your main entrée and pair with steamed vegetables.
  • Try calorie free beverages such as sparkling water or water with a fruit garnish instead of juice and soda.
  • Make some traditional holiday recipes healthier by changing some ingredients. Make adjustments slowly to favorite recipes, substitute one ingredient at a time so you can make sure the recipe works. If you can’t alter the recipe to be healthier, enjoy the classic but try to be mindful of the portions. Common substitutions include:
    • egg substitutes or two egg whites used in place of a whole egg
    • applesauce in place of oil in baked goods
    • for dips, sauces and toppings choose non-fat or low fat dairy products
    • try adding raisins or nuts to bread or cookie recipes.
  • Keep in mind food safety! Don’t keep dishes out of the fridge for more than two hours.
  • Try to have a small snack before heading out to a holiday party to avoid over-doing it.
  • Stick to a normal eating schedule, include breakfast and lunch on days where there is a main holiday meal, and be sure to include fruits, vegetables and whole grains! Skipping meals can lead to over eating. This will allow you to enjoy your holiday meal in moderation.
  • Eat slowly. It’s important to enjoy the foods you’re consuming. Many of our favorite holiday dishes are family favorites that you may not have on a daily basis. If you eat slowly you’re more likely to sense when you’re full; if you eat too fast you can miss your body’s cues and over eat.Family in winter park
  • Move the conversation away from the food area to avoid grazing.
  • Children and adults tend to eat more when watching TV. Enjoy the holiday meal with the TV turned off.
  • Moderation is key. It’s okay to try all foods, just watch the portion sizes.
  • Offer to prepare a healthful dish or appetizer if you’re attending a holiday party. Some simple dishes like a vegetable platter with low fat dip or whole grain crackers and cheese are always a great choice.
  • Try to be active during the day. When possible, outdoor family activities, like taking a walk, sledding or ice skating are always fun!

The holidays are such a wonderful time for celebration and enjoying time with friends and family. With a little preparation and thought you can enjoy the season even more by choosing healthier options with a balance of traditional holiday foods.

Do you know how many calories you consume during a holiday meal? Health Castle has a list of how many calories are in the most popular holiday foods and gives tips on how to trim some of the calories off.

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