Healthy Holiday Eating

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 11/25/2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Most people have their own unique holiday stories to tell.  I grew up where the holidays meant there would be bowls of candy and nuts everywhere.  Our dinner included every type of starch you could think of.  My mother would mash everything with butter and heavy cream from potatoes, winter squash, carrots, yams and even turnip.  We once had a guest who said “”ooohh something that isn’t mashed” referring to the broccoli and cheese dish.  I don’t know.  Did she think we would be able to eat more if everything was already mashed up for us???  There were at least 15 different types of pies and many were not even touched so that we had leftovers for weeks to come.  Of course, after the feast, all the adults fell asleep watching football.  That’s what I remember.

Oh, how times have changed.  Our meal is much scaled back to a more appropriate number of food items.  We of course have the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Then, we have a healthy serving of green beans and roasted mushrooms to balance out the meal.  We have a pie or two which is more than enough for all of us to have an adequate piece (but not too big).  After the meal, all the kids and some of the adults go out and play soccer or sled if there is snow.  Of course, there are a couple adults who still fall asleep on the couch (ahem-my husband!)  The holiday meal can be what you want it to be.  It is OK to scale it back some in amount of food and calories too!

Many dread this time of year because they know with all the celebrations comes unwanted weight gain.  The truth is that most Americans only put on 1-2# during the holiday season.  Remember that it takes 3,500 calories to add 1 pound of weight.  That’s 500 calories extra per day X 1 week.  The problem is that this weight gain is cumulative.  Most people don’t tend to lose the weight they gain during the holidays so their weight will creep up over the years.  This could be a weight gain of 10# every five years.  Many don’t even notice until it is too late and more difficult to take the weight off. 

The best thing to do is to approach the holidays with a game plan.  Don’t go to the big meal starving.  Plan exactly what you will be eating.  Know how much dessert, if any.  Think about the calories from your drinks too.  This might be a good thing to skip since the rest of the meal is usually much higher in calories than usual.  Bring a non caloric drink with you to share with all.  Your relatives will thank you. 

Ten tips to keep in mind for the holidays: 

1.       Don’t forget your game plan.

2.       Focus on eating; eat slowly and chew well.

3.       Don’t drink with your meals and wait to drink 2 hours after eating. 

4.       You may tolerate the darker meat better than the breast. 

5.       Eat your protein first and then the non starchy vegetables.  Starch last if you have any at all!

6.       Limit or avoid your starches. 

7.       Bring a healthy dish!

8.       Don’t drink your calories.

9.       Don’t go hungry.

10.   Get some exercise in before or after the holiday meal (a walk will suffice.) 

One more…Enjoy the holidays.   

Jane

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