Health & Medicine

Small choices have big impact on holiday eating

Daniel Stinett, Baptist Health
Daniel Stinett, Baptist Health Herald-Leader

The holiday season is a time in which friends and family get together for celebration. Whether it is at home or out, many of these events involve food. While we cannot always avoid food when celebrating the holidays, it is fairly simple to make healthy choices that will allow us to enjoy this time of year without feeling guilty.

Here are five tips to help you make healthy choices and still enjoy the holiday season:

Be proactive: Eat meals leading up to an event involving food. When you skip meals in order to "save" calories for later, you tend to overeat. Eat small meals prior rather than skipping.

Think fluids: Water is your best choice. Have a glass of water before, during and after a meal to help you stay full. If you drink alcohol, think moderation because of its high calorie content, especially mixed drinks. Choose diet soft drinks or seltzers for your beverage or use them as your mixer instead of regular soft drinks or punches.

Bulk Up Your Plate: Add more fruits and vegetables to your meal. By having half of your plate fruits and vegetables you give your body extra water as well as nutrients and fiber without extra calories. Choose fruits with an edible peeling or skin as well as raw vegetables without dip or sauces instead of chips or fried appetizers for crunch.

Moderation: Consume smaller portions by choosing smaller plates and drinking out of smaller glasses. Think of ways in which you can have the foods you like but in smaller amounts. For example, if you want to sample multiple desserts, take very small portions to equal the amount of one regular-sized dessert. By doing so you can still sample each dessert without feeling guilty about overeating.

Substitute: For the traditional holiday meal, you can make these substitutions to cut back on calories:

Choose white meat instead of dark meat.

Choose plain mashed potatoes instead of sweet potato casserole.

Choose whole grain rolls/breads instead of plain white rolls or breads.

Choose steamed vegetables instead of vegetable casseroles.

Choose plain pumpkin pie instead of apple pie a la mode.

Remember, little changes add up and can soon become part of your daily routine, not just around the holidays.

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