Holiday meals too often can pack on the pounds


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During the holiday season, mouth-watering mounds of turkey, ham, buttery potatoes and desserts tempt our palates. These goodies can go straight to our waists and impact our health.

How can we enjoy a tasty holiday without packing on the pounds?

Leah Haley RD, LD/N, the clinical nutrition manager at Parrish Medical Center, offers some tips.

• Portion control: Smaller portions, smaller plates and putting the fork down between bites helps keep us from overindulging.

• Alter the recipe: Make a lighter version by substituting plain or Greek yogurt for sour cream or mayonnaise. Cheese, sugar and butter in recipes can be decreased by about one-third without sacrificing taste.

• Keep hydrated: Drinking water is a cornerstone of any healthy living plan. Drink at least eight glasses a day to prevent overeating.

• Stay active: Make healthy use of time off work by playing sports, going to the gym or taking a family walk.

• Practice moderation: It’s important not to deny yourself the enjoyment of a cookie, slice of pie or glass of eggnog. Don’t feel guilty about having a treat now and then.

• Be safe: Parties and events make the holiday festive, but stay safe while having fun. Don’t drink and drive, wear seat belts and take weather into account when traveling.

• Eat slowly: Avoid rushing through meals. According to the Centers for Disease Control, take about 20 minutes to eat, the time your brain needs to think it’s full.

• Alcohol consumption: It is recommended that women consume no more than one serving daily and men no more than two. A serving is one 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or 1½ ounces of spirits.

• Vegetarians and vegans: Include high-protein foods such as legumes, lentils, soy products and nuts. Eggs and dairy products are good sources of protein for vegetarians who are not vegan.

•  Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or Crohn’s disease don’t go away during the holidays. Plan ahead. Stick with a prescribed meal plan as much as possible. 

A cardiac/low sodium diabetic menu PDF can be downloaded at parrishmed.com/programs-services/parrish-medical-center/cardiovascular-programs/default.aspx