Healthy Holiday Eating

Health Minute

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The average American gains about a pound or two during the holidays, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA). After several years, this can really add up. Experts at the National Institute of Health have found that almost all the weight people gained over the course of a year could be explained by the pounds they added over the holiday period. That’s why it’s particularly important to make sure you maintain your weight during the holiday season.

The holidays can be fun without packing on the pounds. The ADA has some great tips for making your holidays healthier.

If you are hosting a gathering you can reduce fat and calories without sacrificing taste 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 lighten holiday fat content.
  • Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads like banana bread.  Try substituting a small amount at first, as the more you substitute the more the texture of the finished product changes.
  • For dips, sauces and pie toppings, use non-fat yogurt, sour cream and whipped topping.
  • Sliced almonds make a delicious, crunchy topping in place of fried onion rings.
  • Choose reduced-fat or non-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles.

Fill your shopping cart with plenty of fresh vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, carrots and green beans. Apples, cranberries and pears combine easily for a tasty salad, fruit crisp or topping for the turkey.

If you are a guest at a dinner party or other gathering, consider these tips from Kim Oswalt, registered dietician at Miami Valley Hospital, to keep your night healthy, happy and safe:

  • If you plan on treating yourself later, start your day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruit, dairy foods and protein like eggs, ham or peanut butter.
  • Don't arrive hungry. Eat a small, lower-calorie meal or snack such as fruit or a bagel so you aren’t tempted to overdo your calorie intake for the day.
  • Select carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample and those you will skip. Only one trip through the buffet!
  • Go easy on fried appetizers and cheese cubes. Instead, have some raw vegetables with a small amount of dip—just enough to coat the end of the vegetable— or try boiled shrimp or scallops with cocktail sauce or lemon.
  • Don’t rush to eat. Socialize and settle into the festivities before you eat.
  • Move your socializing away from the buffet or appetizer trays. This will minimize the unconscious grazing.

Finally, after dinner, consider getting some physical activity. This is a great time to go for a walk and catch up with family members, or you can play catch or a game of basketball with the kids.

The holidays are a great time for celebrating with friends and family over food and drinks. But with just a little preparation, you can keep off the extra holiday pounds and still enjoy all that the season has to offer.

Enjoy healthy holiday recipes:

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.