10 tips to tune up your holiday menu
Jill K. Fulk, R.D., L.D.
Registered and Licensed Dietitian
The holiday season does not have to mean overindulgence on food and weight gain. Start new traditions this year by promoting healthy habits. Here are some tips to help you tune-up your holiday menu:
1. Bring a healthful dish to a party. That way you know there is at least one healthy choice available. The other guests will also benefit, even if they don't realize it.
2. Add fiber and more vitamins and minerals to your recipes by adding extra chopped veggies, nuts, beans or fruit. Add diced apples and walnuts to salads. Take a favorite casserole and throw in some black beans or garbanzo beans.
3. Don't go to a party on an empty stomach. Eat a light, healthy snack such as light yogurt, fruit or cereal before arriving at a party. This will curb your hunger and help you make better choices.
4. Limit alcoholic beverages. Stick with one serving if you must and then switch to diet soda or water with lemon or lime. If you are hosting the party, provide low-sugar beverages like sugar-free hot chocolate and sugar-free hot cider.
5. Keep minimal baked goods on hand this year. Only bake enough for one festivity. Rinse out mixing bowls immediately to avoid sampling of batters and packing on extra calories. Freeze leftovers so they are out of sight.
6. If you are providing your own plate, bring a smaller one or choose the smallest plate available. You will be less likely to eat large portions if you have less room on your plate. Fill your plate with veggies first, and then add some lean protein like turkey or ham. The remainder of your plate can be used for foods such as stuffing or potatoes. You will have less room on your plate for the high-fat selections. The high fiber veggies and lean protein are also filling, and this might prevent you from reaching for seconds.
7. Put small portions on your plate and take your time eating. Some ways to slow down include talking with other guests, putting your fork down between bites and chewing food completely. You will recognize your fullness earlier and be able to stop eating sooner.
8. Replace sugar in recipes with sugar substitutes such as Splenda. Or, try cutting back on sugar by one-third to one-half and increase the use of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. These give a hint of sweetness without adding calories.
9. Baste your meat with fat-free broth, apple cider or fruit juice instead of high fat drippings or sauces. Create your own marinade with low sodium broth or water with loads of herbs and spices.
10. Feast on fitness. Exercise is a great stress reliever and can make things seem less hectic. It will also help you burn off those excess calories. Think of easy ways to increase exercise during your holiday activities. Take the stairs or park farther away from the store when shopping. Take a walk with other family members after a holiday meal. Try signing up for an athletic event or join a local team during the holiday season to stay committed to your exercise regimen. Try new activities like Pilates, indoor volleyball or kickboxing to keep things exciting.