Thanksgiving through New Years Day is often referred to as the Holiday Season. This is a season filled with special events, family gatherings, parades, parties, decorating, and gift giving. Something that is often paired with these events is an array of holiday themed foods. These foods range from turkey, ham, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, to cookies, pies, and special candies.
Eating and drinking more than usual on the actual Holidays (Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, and New Years day), probably won’t make a huge difference on our waistlines. However, making it a Holiday season of splurging on food and drink (a full 2 months), will have an impact on our weight and health. It is possible to make it through the holiday season without losing track of healthy nutrition habits.
Here are some easy tips to help keep you on track:
• Don’t skip meals. Saving all of your calories for a big holiday feast typically results in overeating. This is especially true for breakfast. Those who consistently eat breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the day.
• Watch portions. Many holiday gatherings include large buffet tables which invite you to come back for multiple helpings. Take a survey of the entire table before selecting any food. Choose what foods are worth trying, and which ones you can ignore. Watch your portion when you do select and keep to just one serving.
• Watch out for liquid calories. Punch, eggnog, mixed drinks, and sodas can add up quickly. Instead, go for water, diet soda, light beer, or wine spritzers.
• Hang out away from the food. Focus on socializing and keep the food table out of sight.
• Have a snack. Try eating a protein based snack before a big get together so you don’t arrive starving and more likely to overeat.
• Focus on Veggies. Start by filling your plate with salad and vegetables first, and then move on to portion controlled entrees and desserts.
• Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to realize you are full. Savor your food and don’t feel like you have to finish everything you put on your plate.
• Bring something healthy. If you are the host, or if you are asked to bring a dish to the party, bring something nutritious and lower in calories (fruits, vegetable tray, lean meat and cheese tray).
Try out these simple ingredient modifications when preparing your favorite holiday recipes. Try switching from:
• Heavy cream to evaporated skim milk – Save 600 calories and 80g of fat per cup.
• Butter or margarine to fat-free butter spread – Save 90 calories and 10g fat/tablespoon.
• Sugar 1 cup to Splenda 1 cup – Save 675 calories.
• Regular cream cheese vs lite or fat-free – Save 40-70 calories and 5-10 g of fat per 1 oz.
• Evaporate whole milk to evaporated skim milk. – Save 191 calories and 24 g of fat for 12 fluid ounces.