Holiday Hazards – and Solutions

Between parties, family events and well-meaning co-workers, food is everywhere around the holidays, and the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s seems to become just one long, tempting opportunity to overindulge.

However, the seven-pound weight gain the average American experiences between Thanksgiving and New Year’s doesn’t have to become your reality. Here’s how to ensure you’re not shopping a size up come January.

Eat smart. This means getting the most vitamins, minerals and other nutrients—but not too many calories—from the foods you choose. Think whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods, brightly colored fruits and 100% fruit juices, vibrant vegetables and fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, and lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. Then you can indulge in holiday drinks and treats in moderation, of course.

Cook smart. Depriving yourself this holiday season isn’t realistic. Instead, learn how to make all of your favorite holiday recipes healthier with a few ingredient substitutions. For example:

  • Use low-fat or fat-free evaporated milk instead of half-and-half in soups, mashed potatoes and pies.
  • In your favorite dressing recipe, use half whole wheat and half white bread to get the extra nutrients from the whole grain and the extra folic acid from the enriched white.
  • When making dressing, use fat-free milk or chicken broth for the moisture instead of the shortening you might otherwise use.
  • Add pureed pumpkin to your dinner roll recipe. It provides more nutrition and color.
  • Instead of mashed potatoes and gravy, consider making potatoes from half white potatoes and half sweet potatoes, mashed with low-fat sour cream, salt and pepper. Good for more nutrition, fewer calories and more color.

Move. Extra parties and extra-big meals should translate to extra exercise. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity daily. However, it’s wise to aim for a little more exercise around the holidays to help combat the extra calories. Remember that the little things add up – take the stairs at the mall when holiday shopping, park in the farthest spot, or round up your friends or family for a walk around the block before the big meal.