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Healthy Eating During the Holiday Season

Keep these 10 tips in mind during the holiday season and the other 360 odd days a year

By Monique Richard MS, RDN, LDN

Healthy Eating During the Holiday SeasonThe holidays are a time for us to gather with family and friends to celebrate. For better or worse, with celebration comes food. This can be a difficult time for all of us, but especially those who are trying to lose or maintain their weight. The last thing we need to do is over-indulge in all the delicious food that surrounds us during the holiday season. Below are some tips to help keep yourself in check and hopefully not pack on the pounds this holiday season.

1.  Be prepared! One of the biggest mistakes you can make before a big holiday meal or party is being too hungry. By eating a light, healthy snack before the meal or party, you can set yourself up to make better choices. Try a low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, or a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with skim milk.

2.  Beware: limit these hefty (high in fat, salt, sugar, or all three) favorites:
• Pecan pie
• Gravy
• Dinner rolls
• Eggnog
• Macaroni and cheese
• Mashed potatoes (made with whole cream
and butter)
• Creamy casseroles
• Anything deep fried
• Honey-glazed ham
• Creamed corn
• Candied apples
• Caramel corn
• Pumpkin cream-cheese rolls
• Sweet potato casseroles laden with butter and
topped with marshmallows.

Remember all of these favorites can be enjoyed in moderation or made healthier altogether. Being proactive and aware is half the battle to improving your health and having a well-balanced diet. Try exploring new recipes or new ways to prepare traditional recipes. See below for a couples suggestions.

3. Portion out servings in the kitchen. Don’t put platters on the table or serve family-style; out of sight, out of mind helps with not reaching for seconds or thirds.

4. Eat mindfully. Oftentimes (but not always) the creamier and richer the taste and textures are in a food or dessert, the more fat, sugar and calorie-rich the ingredients are. With that being said, don’t be afraid to enjoy, BUT savor it and be mindful of the portion. Recognize when your body is satisfied; don’t just keep eating because it is too good to stop or right in front of where you’re sitting.

5.    When cooking, always ask “can I replace this calorie-dense ingredient with ____?” Pureed pumpkin, applesauce, and avocado often can substitute for oil in some recipes for baked goods. Low-fat, soy or rice milks or vegetable broth can often replace full-fat dairy in mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles, and sauces. Low sodium soups and canned or frozen vegetables can be used for casseroles and side dishes. Low-fat yogurt, dairy free sour cream (yes, it is out there; check your local grocery store), low-fat frozen yogurt, or other healthier but tasty toppings can replace full-fat, empty-calorie toppings. When there’s no substitute for “mama’s ____”, again enjoy, but understand your stomach is not much bigger than your fist; think carefully about all you try to put in it.

6.    Make use of spices and seasonings. Cinna-
mon, nutmeg, cloves, thyme, and rosemary are just a few examples of great additions to a dish that make a significant impact on flavor and nutrition but don’t add fat, calories, or lots of work.

7.    Going home for the holidays? Offer to make or bring a dish you have control over creating. It will take the burden off the hostess, offer variety at the meal, and be a safe option for you in helping you stay more health conscious.

8.    The possibilities are endless for using healthy holiday staples (cranberries, apples, pumpkins/squash, and nuts) as beneficial and delicious ingredients to dishes now and throughout the year. See last month’s article (“Eat, Praise Nutrition, & Be Merry”) for ideas.

Monique Richard
Monique is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and licensed dietitian nutritionist (LDN) with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition completed through the coordinated program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.

Please call 423-794-5520 to schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians.

301 Med Tech Parkway, Johnson City, TN  37604
423-794-5550 |

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