Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Bhavna Arora, M.D.

 

T’is the season shorter days, family gatherings, and all the excitement that comes with the holiday season. All that excitement can make it feel challenging to keep healthy, but it is possible and it isn’t hard! Here are my best tips for living and eating healthy during this holiday season:

 

  1. Exercise regularly during the holidays and especially before major dinners such as thanksgiving and Christmas. Be realistic! You won’t lose weight during the holidays but you can maintain it.
  2. Don’t go to the party hungry or skip meals! Eat something small and healthy prior to the event so you do not overindulge when you get there.
  3. Bring a healthy dish that you can eat in case there are not many healthy options at the party.
  4. Focus on small portion sizes. Use a smaller plate so you put less on the plate.  Avoid seconds.  Moderation is very important. You can eat that piece of pie but make it small!
  5. Eat slowly and savor the flavors. It takes time to get to that sensation of fullness.  You are more likely to overeat if you eat fast. You want to be satisfied but not full!
  6. When you get to a party, choose 3 to 4 healthier foods to focus on and stick to them!
  7. Fill up on the healthy foods such as turkey and vegetables first and eat less of the unhealthy foods such as desserts and other entrees with cream and butter.
  8. If you eat one heavy meal, go light on the other meals.
  9. Spend more time socializing and less time eating! Enjoy the company and take the focus off food!
  10. Minimize sugary drinks and alcohol. Drink water in between to fill yourself up.
  11. Chew gum or eat mints in between food and drinks to avoid overeating. This is my favorite trick! I always carry sugar free mints in my purse.

 

If you're anything like me, you'll also do quite a bit of your own cooking during the holidays. Here are a few tips to reduce fat and calories without compromising flavor by swapping out a few ingredients in your favorite recipes:

 

  • Using two egg whites in place of one egg can reduce the cholesterol and produce the same tasty result.
  • Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and cut back on added butter or margarine.
  • Substitute applesauce or low-fat greek yogurt for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads like banana bread. Try substituting a small amount at first, since the more you substitute the more the texture of the finished product changes.
  • For dips and sauces, use fat free or low-fat greek yogurt which is high in protein and has less fat
  • Sliced almonds and walnuts make great crunchy toppings to salads.
  • Choose reduced-fat or low-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles.

 

 

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