Healthier Options for Holiday Meals

Contributed by Brandi Fitch

The holidays are the one time of year that we all make excuses to eat that one extra slice of pie or that additional helping of stuffing. Unfortunately, that extra something can add up if this thought process continues too often over the holiday season. However, if you make small changes in your eating or cooking habits while preparing these meals, you can keep weight off and feel better!

MyPlate offers several tips and recipes for you to stay on track during the holidays, including:

• Quench your thirst with low calorie options
• Use recipes with unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas instead of butter. Reduce the amount of sugar in recipes by using spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg instead
• Enjoy leftovers by creating delicious new meals with your leftovers. Add turkey to soups or salads and use extra vegies in omelets, sandwiches, or stews
• Try baked apples with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar instead of apple pie

You can find more MyPlate tips and information about eating healthy over the holidays here.

The American Heart Association also offers a Holiday Healthy Eating Guide with many different tips and recipes for the holiday season. If you are a fan of eggnog, try filling your glass with half-to three-quarter parts of low-fat or skim milk and one-part eggnog so you can still get the flavor without all of the calories. Love hot chocolate? Try low-fat or skim milk and use mini marshmallows instead of large ones.

If your favorite part of the holiday meal is the turkey, there are small tricks you can use to stay mindful. Reach for the lighter pieces of meat, as they have fewer calories and less fat than the darker meat. Stay in control of portion sizes-a serving size is 3 oz., which is close to the size of a deck of cards. For side dishes, one can also bake, grill, or steam vegetables instead of frying them.

When it comes to dessert, use the buddy system by splitting a dessert with someone and cutting calories in half. While cooking, try adding dried fruit instead of chocolate chips or candies. You can also use extracts like vanilla, almond, and peppermint to add flavor rather than sugar or butter.

The full Holiday Healthy Eating guide can be found here.

These are only some of the different tips and tricks to make meals healthier during the holidays. Get creative and find your own fun substitutions for recipes! One small change can improve your mood and self-confidence so you can kick off the new year in a positive way.