Holiday meal

Yes, you can balance healthful eating with holiday meals.

This time of year we can be found spending time with our families, attending Christmas parties and re-creating family traditions filled with delicious, festive foods. With Christmas just a few weeks away, everyone knows how challenging it can be to continue to make healthy choices during the holidays.

Studies show that most adults typically gain some weight during this time. By eating that piece of pecan pie, or indulging in a few glasses of eggnog, you can pack on those unwanted pounds quickly. Don’t fret though — with these healthy tips, it will be easy to make healthy choices while still celebrating with your loved ones.

  1. Start the day right with a healthy breakfast. Some great examples would be Banana Oatmeal Pancakes, Breakfast Burritos, or try making a Veggie Egg Bake to help start off your day.
  2. Make fruits and vegetables part of your holiday plate. Try not to cover your vegetables in glazes and heavy sauces. Instead, cook the vegetables in ways that bring out their natural flavors. For example, you can swap out cream of mushroom soup and instead toss green beans in olive oil, garlic, and sea salt, and roast them in the oven. You can also sneak fruits and veggies into your holiday cookies and desserts.
  3. Don’t forget to add exercise. Schedule time for exercise that you enjoy. Get outdoors for some fresh air by going on a walk with the whole family.
  4. Lighten up your recipe. Ingredient substitutions can really reduce caloric intake without missing out on flavor. Here are some helpful tips for healthy substitutions:

Replace 1 egg with 2 egg whites to cut cholesterol.

Instead of oil, margarine or butter in baked items, substitute applesauce to reduce fat.

Always use fat-free versions of creamy ingredients such as yogurt, sour cream or whipped topping.

Use reduced-fat cheeses in casseroles and salads.

Remember to hydrate and limit alcohol. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water during the holidays. It is OK to drink in moderation, but choose your beverage wisely. Remember that a glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories. However wine, beer and mixed drinks can range from 150 to 225 calories. If you drink alcohol, try to have a glass of water or juice-flavored seltzer in between your drinks.

If you are looking for more healthy suggestions on how to stick to your healthy habits through the holidays, visit Nutrition.gov. Also, don’t forget to check out our Facebook page at Denton County Healthy Happenings to find healthy affordable recipes, nutrition articles, videos, physical activity tips and more each week. If you have any questions about Better Living for Texans programming, please contact me at 940-349-2891 or dusty.fife@dentoncounty.gov.

DUSTY FIFE is the Better Living for Texans agent with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Denton County.

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