You CAN put the healthy in holidays!

Ample gatherings of family, friends, and food? It must be the holidays! You can enjoy festivities without impacting your health and waistline. Here, Carolyn McAdams, RD, Christian Health Care Center’s Clinical Nutrition Manager, answers FAQs so you can put the healthy in holidays.

 What foods traditionally associated with the holidays are healthy – or relatively healthy?
Many standard holiday foods, such as turkey, yams, squash, beans, Brussel sprouts, and cranberries, are healthy. However, the preparation of these foods can result in a menu that is heavy in calories and fat. Roast turkey without stuffing. Forgo the popular green-bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions, and replace it with fresh beans roasted with olive oil, garlic, and sea salt. Mash potatoes with skim milk. Roast yams and squash without adding sugar. Replace a whole egg with two egg whites to cut cholesterol. Use reduced-fat cheeses and fat-free versions of creamy ingredients such as yogurt and sour cream. And don’t forget to increase the quantity of vegetables on your plate and take less of the starchy selections.

I have a tendency to overeat during the holidays. Help!
We tend to overeat at holiday celebrations because of good memories and feelings of joy that these special days can illicit, but you can curb your appetite. Eat your normal breakfast and/or lunch so you won’t arrive at a party on an empty stomach; you will overeat for sure. Go for the veggie tray, and bypass the chips and dip. Mingle away from the food table so you’re less inclined to reach mindlessly for something to nibble on. Check out the buffet options before making your selections, rather than loading your plate as you go. Opt for a small plate. And most important, take a break! It takes a few minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full. After your first helping, wait at least 10 minutes before heading back for seconds. You will most likely realize that you are full.

Do I need to pass on dessert?
No need to skip dessert. Just take a small portion, or opt for fruit instead.

Can’t I just eat to my heart’s content and start a diet on January 1?
If you eat just 200 extra calories a day – a couple of butter cookies, a few pigs in a blanket – you can gain three to five pounds during the holiday season. Saying that you will make changes as a New Year’s resolution might be an excuse to ignore your healthy inner voice. Stay in check by making good nutritional choices and continuing your exercise routine.

The registered dietitians of Christian Health Care Center can share their nutrition know-how with your group, school, or organization. Contact our Speakers Bureau at (201) 848-4463 or email khockstein@chccnj.org.

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