Tips for healthy holiday eating
Holidays are a time for festive gatherings with family and friends. They also are occasions when we see tempting treats everywhere we turn.
It is easy to get off the healthy track, but that doesnít mean you have to put on blinders and forego the festivities. Whether you are the host or guest, you can still indulge with a few smart choices. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and enjoy the holiday season:
- Eat five a day. Choose appetizers that will help you meet the recommended guideline of five or more servings of vegetables and fruits a day. For example, Romaine spears or Belgium endive is an instant out-of-hand salad when dipped into a savory dip.
- Fill up on fiber. Besides fruits and vegetables, choose hors díoeuvres that contain whole grains and/or ones with legumes. Try a roasted red pepper spread on toasted whole-wheat rounds or creamy garbanzo dip served with pita chips.
- Limit high-fat choices. Most traditional foods can be made low in fat. Turkey is very lean without skin. Gravy can be made without fat. Potatoes served without butter can be very healthful. Pumpkin pie is nutritious, but it is a high-fat dessert when whipped cream is added. Enjoy traditional holiday foods, but just eat smaller portions. Use substitutes when you are cooking to make lower-fat foods, or capitalize on vegetables and fruits. For example, use reduced-calorie margarine instead of butter and non-fat whipped topping instead of whipped cream. Use light sour cream, skim milk, reduced-fat or fat-free salad dressing and extra lean ground beef or lean ground turkey.
- Add variety. A variety of foods help add more nutrients to your diet. Also, contrast flavors and textures-crunchy, smooth, hot, cold, spicy-and strive for a good balance of all categories.
- Donít forget to exercise. Burning off extra calories can be the key to keeping off weight during the holidays. Plan a brisk walk after meals, park further away from stores when you go shopping, or walk around the mall before you begin to shop. Weight gain is usually a result of high-fat foods and lack of exercise.
- Sample, sample, sample. At holiday parties and at family meals, feel free to sample foods, just donít splurge. Fill your plate with fresh vegetables, fruit, low-fat dressings and slices of lean meat. Take small portions of high-fat, festive foods.
- Listen to your body and eat only when you are hungry. Donít just eat because food is near.
- Limit or avoid alcohol. Too many drinks can topple your will power, and it can add excess calories to your diet. In place of alcohol, drink water with lemon. Water can limit your appetite.
- Be flexible in your diet. One ďbadĒ meal should not leave you feeling guilty. Try to balance your calories over the period of a few days. Donít worry about just one meal or the food you eat in one day.
- Get plenty of rest. Adequate amount of sleep helps to minimize the stress associated with the holidays.
Damaris Karanza, MA