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Healthy holiday eating


Sarah Klein-Mark, R.D.

Following healthy eating habits during the holidays can make a difference. Current research shows the average person gains only one pound over the holidays. However, that pound carries over to the new year and beyond, and the extra weight can contribute to long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

By using sensible and healthy cooking strategies, you can maintain your weight over the holidays. Incorporating healthy ingredients when cooking can cut calories and add flavor.

Try these healthy food preparation tips:

  • Use applesauce or pumpkin puree as a tasty margarine or butter substitute for stuffing (may need to reduce the water slightly).
  • Use applesauce or fruit puree in place of one-third of the total butter or oil in a cake or cookie recipe.
  • In a chocolate dessert, pureed prunes can be used as a substitute for part of the oil or butter.
  • Enjoy vitamin-rich mashed sweet potatoes or baked sweet potato rounds or fries. Spritz the strips with cooking spray, add a dash of cinnamon and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Prepare winter squash with apple-juice concentrate, light syrup or all-fruit preserves and season with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
  • Use fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth and fresh herbs in vegetable or stuffing preparation. Adding a small amount of marmalade to the broth can add sweetness and shine to your vegetables.
  • Prepare bread pudding with fat-free egg nog instead of whole milk for extra flavor; add raisins or dried fruit for more fiber.
  • Add fat-free chicken broth to mashed potatoes in place of milk and butter to cut calories and add flavor.

Try these low-calorie eating tips:

  • Bypass the chips and other high-fat foods and help yourself to a few whole-wheat crackers, reduced-fat cheese and fresh fruit or chilled shrimp. Go for a hummus dip with veggies.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol. Good alternatives to cocktails are sparkling apple juice or apple cider; seltzer mixed with fruit juices; hot apple cider; flavored, calorie-free water; or low-sodium vegetable juice.
  • Stock up on healthy snacks at home to avoid temptations.
  • Avoid skipping meals. You are more likely to overeat at parties if you are too hungry.
  • Curb calorie intake by taking tiny portions of favorite foods. Once finished with your treat, chew gum or have a sugarless breath mint to prevent going back for seconds.
  • Remember: exercise will reduce stress and help you maintain your weight. Brisk walking is a great way to burn calories. Buy a pedometer and strive to walk 10,000 steps per day.

Sarah Klein-Mark, R.D., is a registered dietitian at Flagstaff Medical Center.



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