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Navigating the Holiday Season | Heart Healthy Meal Planning

005Lauren Dimitrov, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert, shares the tips she gives her clients during the holiday season.

The holiday season is upon us and celebrations with family and friends are underway. If you are concerned that holiday parties and food will ruin your healthful eating habits, remember that all holiday dishes can fit into a healthy eating plan. The truth is, on average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the holiday season. I know this doesn’t sound like much, but research shows this weight tends to stay and accumulate over the years. We can avoid those extra pounds by planning.  

There are many ways to help you avoid overeating. Do not skip meals throughout the day prior to a holiday party or meal. If you skip meals, it is more likely that you will overeat later. Having a sensible breakfast and lunch will help you feel more satisfied with a smaller portion come feast time. If you can bring an appetizer or dish, choose foods rich in nutrients, but lower in fat, calories and sugar. Fill your plates with fruits and vegetables and salad before having your entrée. If you are at a buffet style meal, take one helping, slow down the rate you eat by having conversation, and savor the flavors.

When cooking, shave calories by making easy substitutions. Instead of high-fat varieties, use chicken stock, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese, low-fat milk, or non-fat evaporated milk anywhere you can. You can substitute non-fat yogurt or applesauce for oil or butter in baked goods.

Be mindful of your beverages. Low-calorie beverages such as sparkling water with lime or low-calorie punch are still enjoyable without the added sugar. If you do drink alcohol, remember the recommendation is no more than one serving per day for women and two per day for men (one serving= 4oz wine, 8oz beer, or 1 ½oz spirits).

Remember that physical activity is still just as important around the holidays. Add it in where you can – park farther away from stores, take the stairs vs. the elevator, enjoy visiting with family and friends on a walk around the neighborhood or a game of ball in the yard.

Enjoy your holiday traditions, plan and be prepared. Think of this as a time for weight maintenance and not weight loss. Happy healthy holidays to you!

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