By Jill Rolfson, Registered Dietitian, Bryan Medical Center

It’s that time of year again! Holiday parties and family gatherings can make eating healthy difficult—especially if you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight or follow a heart-healthy or diabetic diet. The key is having a variety of healthy food selections. But this doesn’t mean you have to completely sacrifice all of your favorites!

“The holidays are often filled with time-honored traditions that include some of our favorite meals and foods. As you celebrate, think of little changes you can make this holiday season to create healthier meals and more active days.”

Ideas for Hosting a Healthy Holiday Party

  • Offer a Variety of Low Fat/Low Sugar Foods: Use healthier options like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, grilled or broiled lean meats, fish, turkey and chicken without the skin.
  • Make Traditional Holiday Dishes Healthier: Try using skim or 1% milk instead of whole milk or cream. Bake/broil foods instead of frying them. Try slightly reducing the amount of high-fat products like butter, cream, cheese, oil, etc. in recipes.
  • Provide Healthy Encouragement: Support your family members and friends by offering healthy food options to encourage them to eat healthy during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Tips to Stay Healthy While Enjoying the Holidays

  • Eat a healthy snack before leaving home to lower your risk of overeating at the party.
  • Go to the party with a plan. Check out the food before making a plate so you can decide what and how much you will eat while sticking to your meal plan.
  • Contribute your favorite healthy dish to the holiday buffet.
  • Enjoy every bite and eat slowly to decrease your chances of eating too much.
  • Reduce your portion size. Take small amounts of your favorite holiday foods. Listen to your stomach and stop eating when you are full.
  • Drink water as a healthy, no-calorie beverage compared to 1 cup of eggnog with 342 calories or 1 cup apple cider with 208 calories.
  • Use unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas instead of butter in baking recipes, and try decreasing the amount of sugar listed in recipes by half. Use spices to add flavor such as cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg instead of sugar.
  • Trim the fat from your meat. Every tablespoon of fat you trim off saves 100 calories.
  • Move away from the food table to reduce the urge to overeat. This lets you focus on spending time with family and friends.
  • Be the life of the party and remain active by focusing on party activities instead of the food.

Keeping a Healthy Focus

  • Focus on the people you’re celebrating with instead of the food.
  • Create a plan before you eat.
  • Avoid holiday over-indulgence by eating a snack before you go to the party. Eat slowly and leave the table when you are done.
  • Eat sweets and treats in moderation.

Sources
http://ndep.nih.gov/media/Healthy_Holiday_Eating.pdf
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/tentips/DGTipsheet32MakeHealthierHolidayChoices.pdf

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