Healthy Holiday Eating

Families, Food and Fitness January 03, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Healthy Holiday Eating

We all love holiday food. Pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream, pecan pie, frosted sugar cookies, fudge, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes smothered in brown sugar and butter. Is anyone else’s mouth watering yet? Holiday’s are a time of celebration, family, friends, and good food. But, with all that good food often comes some not so good weight gain. What can you do to prevent weight gain and still enjoy the holidays?

Here are a few simple tips to help guide you through the coming months of holiday feasts.

gingerbread cookies

  • Make healthy food and bring it along with you to the holiday meal. This way you will always have something healthy to eat in a dining room full of high calorie dishes.
    • What to bring? A fresh fruit salad is always a healthy and appetizing dish to bring to a celebration. You can also bring a big salad tossed with shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers. Don’t forget the low-fat dressing. Simply prepared vegetables such as steamed carrots or green beans are also healthy side dish options. You can also bring a simple vegetable tray.
  • Eat something before you go. I know this might sound silly, but your stomach can only hold so much food. If you are starving you may overeat. Eat a little something like yogurt, fruit, or lean meat. The point is not to go hungry.
  • Take larger portions of healthier options such as the turkey, fresh fruit and vegetables and smaller portions of the more calorie dense foods like mashed potatoes with gravy, sugary, marshmallow topped sweet potatoes and white bread roll with butter. When it comes to dessert, take a half piece or just a few bites.
  • Drink water. Beverage calories can add up quickly. A few glasses of sweet wine, apple cider, egg nog, fruit juices, pop and hot cocoa can easily add a few hundred calories to your meal. Everything in moderation, if the holiday drinks are your favorite, try just a small serving.
  • Choose your favorites. Make sure you only choose the things you really love. Leave off the items that are just there as part of traditional holiday celebrations, but are not really your favorites. Also, it is key to watch portion sizes. You can enjoy all of your holiday favorites in moderation.

Hopefully, implementing these five tips will help you navigate your way through the holiday feasts so that you get to enjoy them and you also get to enjoy your health.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.