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Nutrition: Celebrate holidays with health in mind

Parties and other celebrations can still be enjoyed while keeping nutrition and overall health in check.

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The holiday season is just as important as any other time to keep in good health and to prevent restarting or having to catch up to healthy habits into 2022. Contributed / Getty Images
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The holiday season is upon us and if you are like me, you are ready to celebrate with family and friends, safely, in person. But with holiday celebrations, health often becomes the last thing on our minds and healthy habits can start to relax leading to fatigue, feeling stress and weight gain.

Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy the 2021 holiday season and keep up your healthy habits at the same time. Here are four tips to keep your health in check during the holidays:

Preplan for parties

Not only can preplanning assist with eating healthier options, but it can also help keep our mindset on other aspects of the holiday season besides the food. Try bringing a vegetable or fruit tray so that you can make sure there will be something low in calories and high in fiber to eat.

And when filling your plate, try serving half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, then pick one or two of your favorite holiday treats. The lower calorie option of fruits and vegetables will help balance your treat calories and the added fiber will help you to stay full.

Another tip includes eating regular, balanced meals and snacks during the day to prevent from feeling starved before a party and overeating.

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Also, don’t forget to mingle away from the food table so that you can properly catch up with others and enjoy your food.

Try to avoid drinking calories

The holidays come with a fantastic drink menu, but often with a hefty calorie price. Try limiting yourself to one or two holiday drinks daily. Instead of a cocktail, try a “cranberry spritzer” (club soda with a splash of cranberry juice and a lime). This is lower in calories and without the added possible headache later.

Other ways to enjoy holiday beverages with less calories include ordering a smaller size or making your own at home with half the sugar.

Use lower-calorie ingredients

Your guests will often not know the difference. This includes substituting low-fat cream cheese for regular cream cheese, low-fat Greek yogurt for sour cream or low-sodium broth for cooking oil when sauteing.

Don't neglect need for regular exercise

Exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety while giving you an emotional lift when you need it most. Exercise can also offset the extra calories eaten, which can assist with weight management. If you cannot keep to your regular exercise routine, try to increase exercise during the day by taking walking breaks, increasing the pace of walking while shopping or meeting friends for a gathering at the local ice rink or ski hill.

The holiday season is just as important as any other time to keep in good health and to prevent restarting or having to catch up to healthy habits into 2022.

Need a new recipe to bring to your cookie exchange? Try this low sugar and low-fat St. Luke’s recipe:

Applesauce Choco-Chip Cookies

Servings: 24 cookies (1 cookie per serving)

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Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Directions:

In a large bowl, add the applesauce, oil, egg and honey. Mix to combine well. Add oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir to combine and add chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough for 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Using a scoop or two spoons, place rounded tablespoons of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges of cookies are lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Nutrition information per serving:

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122 calories, 2 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fat, 79 milligrams sodium.

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Rachelle Goebel

Rachelle Goebel, RDN, LD, is a St. Luke’s clinical dietitian.

Related Topics: HEALTHNUTRITIONRECIPESFOOD
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