A Fabulously Healthy Holiday

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The coming week will be filled with the hustle and bustle of final Christmas preparations, time with family and friends, good drinks, plentiful meals and late nights. Needless to say the “Ho Ho Ho” of the holidays presents a bundle of challenges to stay on track. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. However, the holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and merriment. You CAN stay healthy through the holiday season!

A few tips to consider:

1. Set realistic goals. Don’t try to lose pounds, simply maintain your current weight.
2. Plan time for exercise.
3. Don’t skip meals. As we discussed last week, you will be less tempted to over-indulge.
4. Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
5. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Give yourself 15 minutes before thinking about second-helpings.
6. Limit sugar laden beverages and alcohol, while increasing water intake. Drink 1 glass of water before and after all spirits and wine! Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and lead to overeating.
7. If you overeat at one meal, go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
8. Take the focus off food. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food.
9. Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.
10. Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Incorporate some of these simple-cooking health tips to make traditional recipes healthier.
• Gravy — Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off. This will save a whopping 56 gm of fat per cup.
• Dressing — Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.
• Turkey – Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.
• Green Bean Casserole — Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with toasted almonds instead of fried onion rings.
• Mashed Potato — Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
• Quick Holiday Nog — Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.
• Desserts — Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.

Enjoy the holidays, plan time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods in small portions. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you!

Adapted from a Sutter Health article.

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