Commentary by Larissa Day Walz, MD
If eating healthy is on your “to-do” list this holiday season, take heart. With planning and helpful nutritional information, there are easy ways to eat healthier during the holidays – and still enjoy some of your favorite seasonal foods. In fact, knowing just a few good food substitutes can help trim calories from holiday meals without compromising flavor, and boost nutritional value. Here are some examples:
- Instead of using oil in baked goods, choose non-fat yogurt or applesauce.
- Fat-free chicken broth and yogurt can be used in place of cream in dips, mashed potatoes and casseroles. Substitute light cream cheese and low-fat milk in recipes.
- Skip the eggnog, which is loaded with fat and calories. Sparkling water and low-calorie punch are two festive alternatives.
- Consider roasting sweet potatoes instead of serving a traditional sweet potato casserole. Adding a spray of butter and sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on top make roasted sweet potatoes a delicious holiday treat.
- Grilling and roasting meat, seafood and vegetables are simple, flavorful ways to prepare foods and help cut down on the need for heavy sauces and creams.
- Traditional appetizers often contain lots of fat and calories. For lighter, healthier options, try whole wheat crackers with reduced-fat cheese, shrimp cocktail, hummus or black-bean dip with raw vegetables, and fruit skewers.
- Simply prepared vegetables and fruits make great side dishes for holiday meals and are healthy substitutes for dishes with gravy or cream sauces.
- Pumpkin pie is a more healthy choice if you’re serving pie for dessert. Make it with non-fat evaporated milk and top with fat-free whipped topping to reduce calories.
- For a different take on holiday desserts, serve chocolate-covered strawberries.
It can be a challenge to maintain healthy habits during the holiday season. Balance indulgence at family gatherings and holiday parties by attempting to eat healthy the remainder of the time. Make sure your regular weekly meals include plenty of fruits and vegetables and stock up on healthy snacks. In addition to making wise nutritional choices, remember to stay active and work some exercise into your busy holiday schedule.
Larissa Day Walz, MD, specializes in internal medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Primary Care, 11725 N. Illinois St., Suite 595, Carmel. She can be reached by calling the office at 688-5522.