|Lori M. Noble, MD|
Last year, I wrote a blog post proclaiming my addiction to all things sweet and shared some tips and tricks that have allowed me to satisfy my sweet tooth without breaking the sugar bank. Well, now the holidays are just around the corner and that can only mean one thing – delicious, decadent food will be all around us, just waiting to wreak havoc on healthy lifestyles everywhere (cue sinister laugh track)!
That may sound a little melodramatic, but the holidays are notoriously a time when people give up healthy eating habits because the temptation is just too great. So this year, I thought I would share some tips that will make it easier to prepare, and enjoy, all those savory and sweet holiday treats – without the guilt.
Call for a SubstituteRecipes often call for heavy, high-calorie ingredients. Most of the time, these can be substituted for much healthier options without sacrificing taste.
For instance, baked casseroles can sometimes call for as many as a half-dozen eggs. You can easily swap the eggs for egg whites (or egg substitute), which come prepackaged in affordable, easy-to-use cartons. This switch will help reduce the fat and cholesterol in many recipes.
Similarly, unsweetened apple sauce can be a replacement for oil in a one-to-one exchange in baked goods. Even that little tablespoon of oil has 120 calories. Those savings can really add up!
On the Side, PleaseWhen preparing your next holiday feast, put all the extras on the side and allow your guests to put as much or as little as they’d like of each on their meal. That goes for dressing, sauces, gravy, extra cheese and any other condiment.
These can add many additional calories and we often don't even realize it. When food isn't smothered in these extras, each person has to be conscious about how much or how little to add and will often wind up using less.
Far be it from me to tell anyone not to indulge in a piece of pie at the end of a holiday meal. That would not be realistic. But, in order to help keep it to just one piece, load up the rest of the plate with a healthy fruit salad topped with low-fat whipped topping. Fruit is high in fiber and much lower in calories than the standard dessert. It helps keep you satisfied and is delicious – a true win-win situation.
Veggies Are Your Best FriendI know I've made this recommendation before, but that's because it’s so crucial to healthy eating habits, so load up on the veggies! The fall and winter seasons are full of many delicious options – butternut squash, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower…the list goes on.
Sprinkle your favorite with some salt, pepper and fresh herbs, drizzle with heart-healthy olive oil, and roast in a pan, the oven, or on the grill for a filling, healthy addition to your meal. Anytime you want to go back for seconds of other food items, I challenge you to eat more veggies first and then ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?" More often than not, the answer will be no.
Cut Out the ExtraMany recipes call for more of certain ingredients than are really necessary, with the biggest culprit being butter.
For example, my mom's sweet potato casserole is a must at our holiday dinners, but the recipe calls for almost two sticks of butter! I cut out over half of the recommended amount and no one could tell. Shhh! (If you're nervous about this, do a test batch using less of the selected ingredient so the recipe can be made without a hitch on the real day.)
This year, try some or all of these tips to make your holiday meal flavorful and filling without sacrificing your health.
Interested in developing a personal fitness plan that includes good nutrition? Find a primary care doctor near you and get started!