Be mindful of holiday eating to avoid seasonal weight gain
Mount Sterling, Ky. (December 9, 2014)—The holidays are here and it’s the time of the year to celebrate with family and friends through traditions, celebrations and food! With all the temptations, it can be a difficult time to keep your waistline in check and eat healthy.
Beth Taylor, licensed diabetes educator and clinical dietitian, with Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, part of KentuckyOne Health, offers the following tips and tricks to help you navigate the season and its abundance of food.
You can improve the health of some of your holiday favorites by modifying ingredients and selections for everything from appetizers to entrees.
Appetizers can often be full of sour cream, mayonnaise and cream cheese and other cheeses. Using reduced fat versions of these products can help reduce the calorie count of these dishes. When you need something to dip with, opt for reduced fat crackers and veggies instead of chips, which can be high in fat and sodium. If you’re serving finger sandwiches, use lettuce wraps or flat bread for a unique look and a healthier item.
When it comes to the main course, choose lower fat entree offerings like turkey or pork loin, instead of red meats. Compare labels to find the lowest fat offering. Fruit juices, low sodium broth and apple cider are healthier options for basting, and roasting meat on a rack will allow unwanted fat to drip away. When possible, avoid heavy sauces or gravy. You can also lower the fat content of homemade gravy by refrigerating meat drippings and skimming away the fat before making gravy.
In addition to healthier meats, you can create an overall healthier meal by serving only one or two of your family’s favorite starchy sides, like mashed potatoes and casseroles, and substituting grilled or baked vegetables. Avoid flaky breads, such as crescent rolls or croissants in the breadbasket and offer low fat margarine or spray butter as a healthier alternative to butter.
You can also decrease the fat content in recipes by using about half of the amount of cheese, butter or cream the recipe recommends.
All of your hard work to eat well doesn’t have to be put aside for dessert, either. Replace the fat in dessert recipes with fruit purees, like applesauce, mashed ripe bananas, or a commercially prepared fruit puree for baking. Use liquid unsaturated vegetable oil when possible. For example, replace one cup of solid shortening with ¾ cup of canola, corn or olive oil. You can use two egg whites or ¼ cup of egg substitute to replace one whole egg. The addition use of certain spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla give the impression of sweetness without the calories.
Fruit salad or fresh, seasonal fruits, like oranges, bananas, apples, kiwi or pomegranates add interest to the table and are a sweet, but healthy option. You can add flavored low fat whipped toppings for a delicious, but still healthier twist.
You can still have your family favorites, but limit them to one or two options and consider serving mini portions instead of a regular size slice or serving. Instead of a dessert buffet, consider serving dessert as a course in the meal to help avoid grazing and overeating.
An often overlooked area of calorie consumption is beverages. Alcoholic drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are high in calories. For example, a single glass of eggnog can pack more than 300 calories. Choose low-calorie alternatives, or alternate and have water every other drink to reduce your overall caloric intake. Regular sodas have as many carbohydrates in them as a meal.
Portion control is a very valuable tool in keeping your holiday eating in check. When filling your plate, select a smaller plate size, such as a salad plate. Starting with a smaller plate and filling it up halfway with vegetable and fruit offerings is an easy way to keep the overall calories down.
Another great way to exercise portion control is by keeping conversation and fellowship the focus of the celebration. Fill up your plate making sure more than half of the foods are healthy items and then move away from the food table and sit down, if possible, to more mindfully eat your meal, pausing to enjoy your company. Only take “seconds” of healthy selections like non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins.
Some studies estimate the average person gains one to two pounds during the holiday season. Additional weight can add up to a larger health concern. Making a few simple modifications throughout the holidays can help avoid unnecessary weight gain.
About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health, the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, has more than 200 locations including, hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved. The system is made up of the former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, along with the the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. KentuckyOne Health is proud of and strengthened by its Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages.