Healthy Holiday Swaps

December 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Posted in Nutrition | Leave a comment
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By Veronica Salsberg, MS
Dietetic Intern

It’s estimated that approximately 26 million Americans, or just over 8% of the population, are living with diabetes.  Nearly 3 times as many Americans may have prediabetes.  Many people believe a diabetes diagnosis means the end to indulging in their favorite foods, making this festive time of year filled with holiday parties and traditional family meals suddenly feel especially stressful.  Yet others believe any attempts at maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays are doomed to fail. The truth is neither of these is the case! You can still enjoy celebrations with friends and family without that all-or-nothing mentality.

Heading out to a holiday party? Follow these tips to help you stay on track this season:

  • Stick to your normal eating routine as much as possible both leading up to the party and afterwards
  • Never go to a party or event hungry.  Have a small snack with a little protein, healthy carbohydrate and fat (such as a cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit or raw veggies dipped in 2 tablespoons of hummus) beforehand
  • Hydrate! We often feel hungry when we’re dehydrated, so make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day
  • Don’t graze from the appetizer table.  Use a plate and serve yourself small portions
  • Use smaller plates to help control portions.  Stick with 1 small plate of appetizers and 1 small dessert (or split 2 small desserts with a friend or relative)
  • If you’re drinking alcohol*, alternate with water or seltzer.  Flavored, calorie-free seltzers are a fun and festive non-alcoholic beverage that won’t leave you feeling deprived (*Check with your doctor if drinking alcohol is ok. General recommendations are no more than 1 drink/day for women and no more than 2 drinks/day for men)
  • Bring your own healthy snacks to your next party.  If you’re hosting, provide your guests with plenty of healthy options!

Helping to cook the holiday feast this year? Talk to your loved ones about putting a healthier spin on traditional recipes. Save on calories and fat and boost flavor in mashed potatoes by swapping out cream and butter for low-fat Greek yogurt and fresh snipped chives. On stuffing duty? Use whole wheat bread for added fiber and nutrients, and replace the melted butter with olive or canola oil. Check out the recipes below for ideas for healthier, but still delicious, holiday side dishes!

Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto & Pine Nuts ~ EatingWell

This green bean dish is just under 100 calories per serving, making it a much healthier alternative to the traditional green bean casserole.

Mushroom and Leek Stuffing ~ MyRecipes

Full of fresh vegetables and herbs,  and with fewer than 200 calories per serving this stuffing is sure to satisfy your taste buds without breaking the calorie bank.

Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots ~ MyRecipes

Try mashed sweet potatoes as an alternative to traditional mashed potatoes this holiday season. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin A.  Crispy shallots and fresh rosemary add flavor without adding to your waistline.

Butternut and Barley Pilaf ~EatingWell

Simple yet bursting with fresh flavors of parsley, lemon, and garlic, this dish has the added health benefits of whole grains from the barley and vitamin A from the butternut squash. It’s low in fat and calories and high in fiber which means you can indulge without guilt!

Mini Apple Pies with Cheddar ~ Eating Well

Save room for dessert! These adorable mini pies mean automatic portion control.   The white whole wheat flour, oats, pecans, and abundance of apples means each little pie has about 5 g of fiber!

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and tasty holiday season!

(Post reviewed by Debra Powers, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist)

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