Elba González, RD, CDE, CPT, LD, MBA
Registered DietitianFollow this author
It’s that wonderful time of year and holiday festivities are just around the corner! It’s time to enjoy our favorite holiday meals with family and friends. With all of the excitement it can also be a time of unwanted weight gain. The good news is you don’t have to completely deprive yourself of your favorite holiday dishes. Research shows that enjoying your meals in moderation is more effective in the long run, when it comes to weight management, than elimination. Also, enjoy holiday dishes at work, at home, at restaurants or where ever you are invited and just remember your portion control strategy.
Keep in mind that weight gain is generally associated with the relationship between calories consumed and calories expended or burned per day. As you tackle the holiday food eating challenge, it always helps to be aware and think ahead. Set your limits beforehand. I recommend making a shopping list that helps you reduce calories and choose staples that can help to do so.
If you exercise regularly, which is a great way to manage your calories, just be aware that if you take an exercise holiday break you have changed the relationship between calories consumed and calories burned.
Here are some lower calorie staples to deck your pantry with for your holiday gatherings:
• Use smaller 8 ½ inch plates to help your guests watch their portions as they fill their plates.
• Select recipes that include vegetables. Also, try non-traditional dishes.
• Substitute ingredients with fewer calories, like low-fat milk and low-fat cheese.
• For beverages provide portion-controlled options like the 7.5-oz. Coca-Cola mini can or Coca-Cola Life in the 8-oz. glass bottle.
• Look for lower calorie soups and sauces such as tomato, onion or vegetable soup.
• You can save money by purchasing food service sized cans, such as 19 oz. green or red enchilada sauce. Use tomato paste, which is lower in sodium.
• For appetizers purchase or prepare those with fewer calories, such as, hearty beef cheese dip or seven layers party dip (use lean ground beef and low-fat cheddar cheese and low fat sour cream). A serving of sour cream equals (1 tablespoon) has 31 calories and 3 grams of fat which is 5% of the recommended daily consumption. The light version has 1.7 grams of fat and 22 calories. You can substitute sour cream for 1 cup of plain yogurt and a tablespoon of lemon juice only 1 tbsp. has 7.5 calories!
• For desserts serve recipes containing canned or frozen fruit. They have the same nutritional value as fresh fruits and cost less. If you prefer fresh fruits choose those that are in season.